A lot of talk two weeks ago was about how the Miami Dolphins had over spent to re-sign a quarterback without a playoff appearance. The team inked Ryan Tannehill, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to a 6 year, $96 million extension, with $21.5 million guaranteed. Critics of the deal point to the near $100 million in money, and the $16 million per year as signs that Miami paid Tannehill too much.
The deal, which actually will pay Tannehill $77 million in new money as it replaces this season and next season's fifth-year option salary, has am $11.5 million signing bonus, with the rest of the guaranteed money coming from Tannehill's 2015 and 2016 base salaries ($660,000 and $9.34 million, respectively) (all salary cap data via OverTheCap.com). The deal increased Tannehill's 2015 salary cap number by $842,477, but decreased his 2016 cap number, which is the biggest cap number year in Ndamukong Suh's contract, by $4.515 million. Tannehill also has some injury guaranteed money built into the deal, with each of those amounts ($3.5 million for 2017, $5.525 million for 2018) becoming guaranteed on the fifth-day of the league year, the season prior (i.e., the 2017 injury guarantee locks in on the fifth-day of the 2016 calendar year). The full salary for 2017 and 2018 becomes guaranteed on the fifth-day of that season's calendar year.
I know, it's a lot of numbers. Hopefully, this will help clear it up some:
|Year||Base Salary||Signing Bonus Prorate||Roster Bonus||Workout Bonus||Salary Cap Number||Triggered Guarantees|
|2015||$660,000||$4,213,364||$1,457,523||$0||$4.873,364||2015 - Salary fully guaranteed on signing|
|206||$9,340,000||$2,300,000||$0||$25,000||$11,640,000||2016 - Salary fully guaranteed on signing 2017 - $3.5 million injury guaranteed on 5th day of league year|
|2017||$17,975,000||$2,300,000||$0||$25,000||$20,300,000||2017 - Salary fully guaranteed on 5th day of league year 2018 - $5.25 million injury guaranteed on 5th day of league year|
|2018||$17,475,000||$2,300,000||$0||$25,000||$19,800,000||2018 - Salary fully guaranteed on 5th day of league year|
The other key provision of the contract is that the Dolphins can opt-out of the deal after the 2016 season, if Tannehill's progression does not continue. The lack of guaranteed money after the 2016 season effectively means Tannehill is playing on one-year contracts for each of the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons.
The deal averages pay for Tannehill at $19.25 million per season in new money, or $16 million in actual per season average. The $19.25 million made Tannehill the 7th highest paid quarterback in the league, while the $16 million average tied him with Andy Dalton for 14th in the league.
Those numbers changed this week, however, as the Carolina Panthers signed Cam Newton to a new, 5-year, $103.8 million contract extension (2015 plus five more years). That deal includes $31 million in fully guaranteed money, with $22.5 million of that in his signing bonus. Over the life of the contract, Newton's salary cap numbers will be: 2015 - $13 million 2016 - $19.5 million 2017 - $20.166 million 2018 - $21.5 million 2019 - $23.3 million 2020 - $21.1 million
Newton's deal jumps him over Tannehill, all the way up to third in per-season average among quarterbacks at $20.76 million. His deal places him just behind Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger on the list, and just ahead of Matt Ryan. The contract, reportedly, also does not have the out-clause in it like Tannehill's does after the 2016 season.
Newton has a year longer in the league than Tannehill, but, like Miami's starter, is below the .500 mark as a starter, having a career record of 30-31-1. He has two Pro Bowl appearaces, and led the Panthers to the Playoffs in 2013 and 2014, going 1-2 in three games. He has a 59.5-percent completion rate, throwing for 14,426 yards, with 82 touchdowns and 54 interceptions, giving him a career passer rating of 85.4. Newton also uses his legs a lot, gaining 2,571 yards rushing with 33 career touchdown carries.
Tannehill, meanwhile, has a 23-25 record, with a 61.9-percent completion rate and 11,252 passing yards. He has thrown 63 touchdowns with 42 interceptions and an 84.0 passer rating. Tannehill has rushed for 760 yards with four touchdowns.
Averaging Tannehill's stats and adding in a fourth season worth of passing, he would be slightly ahead of Newton with 15,002 passing yards, 84 touchdowns, and 56 interceptions. Statistically, the two are fairly close in everything, except the Pro Bowl and Playoff appearances.
Using the full length of the contracts for both Tannehill and Newton, the Panthers are paying their passer $22 million more than Miami's signal caller. Again, Newton has two Pro Bowls and two playoff appearances for three total games. The Dolphins have some added flexibility in Tannehill's contract as well, with the ability to easily escape it if he is not able to continue his growth.
Overall, Miami's deal with Tannehill seems more-and-more like a team friendly contract that will reward Tannehill if the team starts winning and making the postseason, but will let the team walk away if he cannot deliver. Signing Tannehill when they did saves Miami money; Newton's contract would likely have pushed Tannehill over the $100 million mark if it had come first. The Tannehill deal should look even better when fellow 2012 draft picks like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III, all pick up their new deals, as well as players scheduled to be free agents like Phillip Rivers. Miami did well with the Tannehill contract, and, as long as he continues to play well, Tannehill did well for himself. By the end of the contract, Tannehill will likely be underpaid if he plays out the entire contract, but, right now, he seems to have been paid exactly what he needed to be paid.