The Indianapolis Colts already knew they would be making Andrew Luck the highest-paid player in the league when his contract is due, but a new deal to Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins may have just pushed the price tag up significantly.
The Dolphins recently gave Tannehill a $96 million deal, one that locks him down in Miami for the long term and appears to solve the team’s search for a franchise quarterback that dates back to Dan Marino’s retirement. Tannehill will get $45 million guaranteed, including $25 million in the first three years.
The signing also made a strong statement that in a quarterback-driven league, locking down a franchise quarterback is worth almost any cost. Tannehill has been solid for the Dolphins, showing good improvement for each of his three seasons despite playing behind a poor offensive line, and the quarterback-starved team was willing to pay whatever it took to lock him down.
The signing is expected to have big implications across the league. Tannehill was the third-best quarterback taken in the 2012 draft, behind top pick Andrew Luck and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who both will be working on new deals soon.
Colts Jim Irsay has said that Luck won’t get a new deal until the end of the next season at the earliest, but by that point the team may have to shell out a record contract.
“There is a good chance Luck will become the highest-paid quarterback — and possibly the highest-paid player — in the NFL once he gets his new contract,” ESPN writer Mike Wells noted.
Contract talks have been a bit messier in Seattle, where the team is reportedly holding off on offering an extension to Russell Wilson. The quarterback is reportedly asking for $20 million per season, but the Seattle Times reported that the team’s offer was just $80 million over the next five years.
There are rumors that if no progress is made on the talks, then the team may not be offering a new deal at all, but instead will let Wilson play out his rookie contract and then use the franchise tag for each of the next two years.
If the rumors are true, then the Indianapolis Colts and Jim Irsay likely wouldn’t blink at making Andrew Luck the highest paid player in the history of the league. After all, he has already led the Colts to the AFC Championship Game in just his third season while $96 million man Ryan Tannehill sports a 23-25 record and no playoff berths.
[Image via Getty Images/Andy Lyons]