Dolphins To Exercise OLB Jaelan Phillips’ Fifth-Year Option

While Jaylen Waddle is on Miami’s extension radar, the team is making the clear-cut decision to push his rookie contract through 2025 via the fifth-year option. The other Dolphins 2021 first-round pick will also see his deal extended by a year.

Despite going down with an Achilles tear on Black Friday, Jaelan Phillips will secure some additional guarantees soon. The Dolphins are planning to exercise the edge rusher’s fifth-year option by the May 2 deadline, GM Chris Grier said Tuesday (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson). The option is fully guaranteed.

Because Phillips’ injury trouble limited him to eight games last season, the zero-time Pro Bowler’s option number is set to come in at $13.3MM. That doubles as the lowest tier for linebackers on this year’s option structure. Phillips needed to play at least 50% of the Dolphins’ defensive snaps in each of his three seasons or cross the 75% snap barrier in two of the three. The ex-Miami Hurricanes cog would have been on track to cross the first of those thresholds had he not suffered the Achilles tear; that would have made the option number $14.5MM.

Phillips, 24, flashed as a rookie by recording 8.5 sacks under Brian Flores in 2021. In 2022, the 6-foot-5 edge defender posted a career-high 25 QB hits. Phillips appeared well on his way to his first double-digit sack season last year; in eight games, Phillips tallied 6.5. Had Phillips not missed three games early last season, he would have been eligible for Tier 3 of this year’s option structure. As a result, the Dolphins will receive a slight discount as they continue to evaluate the player.

The Dolphins committed big dollars to Bradley Chubb‘s extension just after acquiring him at the 2022 deadline, but their edge-rushing situation changed dramatically after the injuries to both starters. Chubb is rehabbing the ACL tear he sustained in Week 17. By the wild-card round, Miami needed to plug in a few emergency free agents — from Melvin Ingram to Justin Houston to Bruce Irvin. The Dolphins now have Shaq Barrett in the fold; the veteran may well be needed to start if one of the rehabbing edges is not ready to go in Week 1.

Re-emerging by Week 1 will be the goal for Phillips, who seems likely to begin training camp on the active/PUP list. A transfer to the reserve/PUP list would mean four missed games. Phillips has a big opportunity ahead, with a return to his pre-injury form setting up either a pricey extension or this contract coming with another team.

The Dolphins have identified some players they want to extend — from Waddle to Jevon Holland to Tua Tagovailoa. With Chubb and Tyreek Hill tied to lucrative deals, other corners could need to be cut. But a Phillips extension profiles as a back-burner issue. The Dolphins’ payroll could look quite different by the time a second Phillips contract goes on the books.

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