The Miami Dolphins are still waiting for a second opinion on Ryan Tannehills’s knee after his injury on Thursday. It’s still unknown if Tannehill’s season will be delayed or over.
There is no reason to assume that Tannehill will or will not be back. Conflicting media reports that have ranged from no structural damage to potentially season ending surgery has everyone speculating on what this season will hold and of course who will the Dolphins bring in to replace Matt Moore who will, for at least awhile, take over the starting job.
Then there is 2018.
The Dolphins will have a big decision to make and it will not be an easy one. It gets incredibly harder if Tannehill misses the 2017 season. In 2018 Ryan Tannehill will account for $19.8 million in salary cap space. If he were to be released or traded the Dolphins would eat $4.5 million saving just over $15 million in cap space.
It’s hard to imagine this playing out but consider there are always concerns about a players injury history and if Tannehill undergoes surgery that becomes a question mark. In reality though, let us assume that Tannehill will be back next year on the same deal he is currently playing under. We should also assume that he misses this entire season and has surgery to repair his knee. The next step in Tannehill’s future is can he stay healthy on that knee. Will it become more structurally stable?
If a relapse of any kind hits in 2018 Tannehill will be a bigger question mark in 2019 when his camp hit’s $21 million but only $2 million would be dead money. In addition the Dolphins would likely start looking to restructure his deal at some point next year or in 2019 but that knee issue could be problematic.
What is certain is that no matter what happens with Tannehill this year, the Dolphins need to start planning for the future and that means they need to get another quarterback. Preferably in the 2018 NFL Draft. Not necessarily a first round quarterback but a solid prospect that Adam Gase could groom to become the starter and who is capable of stepping in if needed.
None of this is obviously ideal. Tannehill has grown considerably since his first few years and many expected him to breakout in 2017. That will no longer be the case regardless of what the Dolphins find out regarding his knee. Tannehill is going to be susceptible to more hyper-extensions in the near future and will miss time at minimum to strengthen the knee.
Is it too early to talk about Ryan Tannehill’s future beyond the 2017 season? For fans yes but the front office should be at least thinking about a plan for the future. Probably sooner rather than later.