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Dolphins working long-term contract for Ryan Tannehill

The Miami Dolphins are working toward locking up quarterback Ryan Tannehill for the long term.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last month, reports indicated the Miami Dolphins are planning to extend the contract for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whose rookie deal ends after this season, barring the use of the fifth-year option the team holds. It appears that new deal may be more than just a use of the option to lock up Tannehill beyond the 2016 season.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel's Dave Hyde reports that the team is discussing a seven-year contract for Tannehill, worth around $105 million. He says the exact numbers nd details of the contract are still being developed, but the idea is to pay Tannehill around $15 million per season, with the first two years completely guaranteed. Hyde also writes that the contract would likely include a team option in year three, and a player option the final two seasons.

Tannehill is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the first offseason in which negotiations on a new deal can be started under NFL rules. The team has until May 3 to decide if they want to exercise the fifth-year option available in all first-round draft selections' contracts, a deal that would guarantee Tannehill a salary around $15 million in 2016. If the Dolphins choose to not use the option, they can either sign him to a long-term contract or they can allow him to hit free agency.

Seems like the team is leaning toward the long-term deal at this point, though using the option cannot be completely ruled out at this point.

Hyde compares the idea of Tannehill's contract to the deals recently signed by the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick. Both players signed big value, several year contracts, that, based on guaranteed money and options added into the contract - as well as bonuses that may not be earned - really become two- or three-year deals that allows a team to escape if the quarterback does not perform.

Tannehill becamse the first Dolphins quarterback not-named Dan Marino to throw for over 4,000 yards this season. He is the only Miami quarterback to start all 16 games in each of his first three seasons in the league, and he has improved statistically in nearly every category each season. Signing him long term could be the right move for the Dolphins, and it could end up saving them money in the long run if Tannehill continues to project upward. The question really is just when do the Dolphins make Tannehill an offer? Do they use the fifth-year option to buy themselves more time to work out the details, or do they go ahead and sign him now to a seven-year contract and remove any doubt about his position with the team?