On Monday, the Miami Dolphins announced that they signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a contract extension. Whenever a deal is first announced, the numbers aren't exactly known and it takes a short while for the full structure of the contract to come out to the public. Thanks to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, we now know the structure.
On the surface, the deal is worth a maximum of $96 million dollars over six seasons with a possibility of getting as much as $77 million dollars in new money over the four additional years added onto his original contract, which was set to expire in 2016. Of course, as you may remember, 2016 was his fifth-year option. Under that fifth year option, $16.2 million dollars was guaranteed for injury only. In total, between 2015 and 2016, he was set to earn $18.27 million dollars.
With the new contract, he was guaranteed $21.5 million dollars at the time of his signing. So, as La Canfora said, the Dolphins took the injury only guarantee and made it a full guarantee - healthy or not. Then, they added a few more million dollars to get to the $21.5 million dollar number. He'll have $45 million dollars in total injury guarantees in case anything happens where he cannot play.
In March of 2016 when the new league year begins, he'll earn another $3.5 million dollars in guaranteed money. In 2017, they will pay him $14.475 million dollars. By that time, he would already have earned $39.5 million dollars, which is an average of $13.15 million dollars per season. LaCanfora goes on to say that the real money is in the final three years of the contract. That's when Tannehill can earn $57 million dollars total between 2018-2020. This would come out to an average of $19 million dollars per year.
What does all this mean? It means the Dolphins got themselves a great deal and Tannehill will really have to earn the later years of contract. In reality, if Tannehill stops progressing or his performance falls off, the Dolphins could move on from him after two years and then each season thereafter. If Tannehill continues to improve and his performance continues to rise to the top of the league, he'll make his money and will be able to earn as much as $19 million dollars per year in the final years of his contract. Essentially, Tannehill is betting on himself to keep on taking that next step.
So while the numbers may jump out at you and cause all sorts of wild thoughts, remember that a lot of this is incentive based and the Dolphins don't have a ton of risk with this deal after two years. Of course, we all hope that Tannehill is around much longer than that because it will mean the Dolphins would have found success and would have established themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs. All contract figures and salary numbers are courtesy of Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.