AFC Notes: Tannehill, Colts, Sanders

Following the Dolphins entrusting Mike Pouncey to spearhead their offensive line through the rest of the decade, their next aim is to sign Ryan Tannehill to an extension before the season begins, according to’s Ian Rapoport (video link).

Although the two sides haven’t had contract discussions since the NFL Scouting Combine, the front office wants to make Tannehill the next Fins cornerstone player.

The Dolphins will certainly pick up the fourth-year quarterback’s fifth-year option by May 3, which will pay him more than $16MM next year if they cannot reach an agreement before Week 1.

Both Chris Perkins and Omar Kelly at the South Florida Sun Sentinel concur Tannehill will be the next Dolphin to sign a long-term extension, but Perkins argues Olivier Vernon should be next (video link). The fourth-year defensive end graded 17th in Pro Football Focus’ 2014 rankings, and Perkins notes paying Vernon before he potentially prices himself out with another solid season now that he’s playing next to Ndamukong Suh is the prudent move.

More from around the AFC, starting in Indianapolis …

  • The Colts are going to face a series of dilemmas regarding their strong 2012 draft class, writes Indianapolis Star reporter Stephen Holder. In discussing which of the non-Andrew Luck fourth-season cogs to extend, Holder ranked T.Y. Hilton, who has already fired and re-hired Drew Rosenhaus, as the priority here before following with Anthony Castonzo, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen in that order. The Colts reportedly view Castonzo, soon to be a fifth-year starter, as their long-term left tackle. Holder doesn’t see Fleener reaching the market and categorizes Allen as a deal on the back-burner despite the latter having profiled as a bigger part of the offense when he’s healthy, which hasn’t been his consistent status.
  • As expected, Emmanuel Sanders will now play in the slot when the Broncos go to three-wide receiver sets, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. A slot at SMU and with the Steelers, Sanders dominated in a role shift to an outside position last season. But with Wes Welker not returning, it’s logical for Denver to deploy their quickest wideout inside, although they won’t feature as many three-wide looks in Gary Kubiak‘s offense.
  • Should the restricted free agent remain in the Browns‘ plans, Tashaun Gipson may be the premier safety in an AFC North division that now houses neither Ed Reed nor Troy Polamalu for the first time since 2002, writes Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland placed a second-round tender on Gipson, who’s entering his age-25 season after a breakout 2014. But the Pro Bowler who’s due for unrestricted free agency next spring has yet to sign it.
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