The first contract extension for the 2012 quarterback draft class is officially on the books, with Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill agreeing to terms on a deal that could earn him up $96 million. The deal is essentially a four-year extension, but due to his current deal, it has him signed through 2020.
Tannehill was due to make $2,117,523 this season in salary and a roster bonus, and $16,155,000 in 2016 under his fifth year option. He was guaranteed his $660,000 base salary in 2015, but the remaining money over the next two seasons was only guaranteed for injury. This new contract earned him $21.5 million fully guaranteed upon signing. That money is payable over the next two seasons, and essentially adds $3 million to what was previously $18,272,523 in salary, along with the full guarantee.
According to the various reports, $3.5 million becomes fully guaranteed in March 2016, and $14.475 million becomes fully guaranteed in March 2017. The deal includes $45 million in total injury guarantees, but like Colin Kaepernick's deal, there are various rolling guarantees and the like to consider. He could earn up to $96 million, but either he will re-negotiate down the road, or be released if he is not living up to the deal.
The deal is essentially a four-year contract extension worth $77 million, which averages out to $19.25 million per year in "new money". Kap's deal averaged out to $19 million annually, with a chance to climb to $21 million. That extra $2 million per year is based on certain escalators (named to AP All-NFL team OR playing time/Super Bowl appearance). Had he hit the escalator in the first year, it would have voided the remaining requirements and bumped his subsequent salaries the $2 million. That did not happen this year, and so we wait and see if it happens next year.
Where this contract gets really interesting is that it sets a bit of a baseline for the remaining 2012 quarterback class. Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are the two most notable quarterbacks from that class, with Robert Griffin III, Nick Foles, and maybe eventually Brock Osweiller becoming something from that group.
Tannehill's contract is intriguing as it makes him the highest paid quarterback to not earn a playoff berth yet. The Dolphins have gone in big this offseason, with Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Cameron highlighting the offseason. They will be expecting big things from Tannehill as part of this offense, and the contract provides some measure of faith he can take them where they want to go. At the same time, it is a relatively team-friendly deal that allows them to part ways with minimal problems fairly early in the deal.
Wilson is set to hit free agency after this upcoming season, while Luck is due to play his option year in 2016. Both are looking at considerably more guaranteed money than Tannehill. The Colts seem pretty content just letting this year play out and likely playing into the option year. A Super Bowl would certainly add something to Luck's resume, but in terms of his value as a quarterback, I don't know that it will change all that much between now and the end of 2016. Odds are pretty good he will sign the biggest quarterback extension in NFL history. I suppose he could offer to take less money, but if he does not, he is getting crazy money, and we know that now.
Wilson is the more interesting case. He has benefited tremendously from Marshawn Lynch and a strong Seahawks defense, but there is no denying he is an impact player. Reasonable minds will differ on just how big an impact player, but he will get a contract befitting one of the top quarterbacks in the league. The questions remaining are how much, when, and with which team? I fully expect him to eventually sign an extension with the Seahawks, but in the meantime, it is fun watching the hand-wringing.