With Ryan Tannehill sidelined again, the Miami Dolphins need to consider all their options with the former top-10 pick.
After being drafted eighth overall in 2012, Ryan Tannehill started every game for the Miami Dolphins over almost five full seasons. Whether that was a good thing or not can be debated, with an 86.5 passer rating and an average of just over 21 passing touchdowns per season over that span, but Tannehill was not in any real danger of being replaced.
But that great availability has changed. A left knee injury cost Tannehill the final three regular season games in 2016, and a decision not to have surgery on a damaged ACL and MCL proved foolish when the injured leg gave way early in 2017 training camp and he missed the entire season.
Tannehill most recently missed Week 6 with a right shoulder injury, after being a late addition to the injury report. He’ll miss Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, and he’ll likely miss Week 8 against the Houston Texans with the short turnaround for a Thursday night game. Brock Osweiler did well last week, and he’s in line to start at least two more games for the Dolphins
So by this time next week, Tannehill is almost sure to have only played in five of Miami’s last 28 games (including playoffs).
After this year, Tannehill has two years left on the four-year, $77 million contract extension he signed in 2015. He’s due to count $26.6 million against the salary cap in 2019, but the Dolphins can save just under half of that ($13.2 million) by cutting him and they’d carry just over $5.5 million in dead money on Tannehill in 2020.
There’s no doubt Tannehill will play again this season. But it’s not like he was tearing it up before he was injured, with a slight drop in completion percentage and passer rating compared to when he was healthy in 2016 and a more substantial drop in yards per game. When he does return, he might be playing for his future in Miami.
The Dolphins had some rumored interest in quarterbacks during the time leading up to this year’s draft, but with the top four guys going in the top-10 overall they were left out at No. 11. A circling back to the 2019 draft class appears likely, if only as some level of legit competition for Tannehill.
Tannehill has been a mediocre quarterback, plain and simple, and replacing him should be on the Dolphins radar if it isn’t already. Trading him is likely a dead-end, due to that $26-plus million cap hit for next year (barring a restructure/pay cut), but cutting him would yield that $13.2 million to sign a new starter.
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, here’s what a team source said when speaking on the topic of who could replace Tannehill this past week.
“Who?” he said.
Drafting a quarterback early in the 2019 draft seems likely and obvious, but finding a palatable veteran would be the other obvious move and it would have to come sooner than April.
Would a capable veteran quarterback sign with the Dolphins, while knowing he may be replaced quickly by a rookie next season? That’s a risk they may have to take, rather than continuing to embrace Tannehill’s mediocrity and growing lack of durability for two more years.