Dolphins, Jaylen Waddle Agree On Extension

10:00pm: Waddle’s 2024 and 2025 base salaries are fully guaranteed, and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio relays the Dolphins are giving their younger 1,000-yard receiver early security for 2026. Waddle’s ’26 base salary ($16.6MM) will shift from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee in March 2025.

Adding to what is a player-friendly structure, the Dolphins will guarantee a sizable portion of Waddle’s 2027 base ($23.4MM) a year early too. By March 2026, $15.2MM of that ’27 salary converts from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee, Florio adds. The rest of the salary becomes fully guaranteed in March 2027. Waddle’s 2028 salary ($25.8MM) is nonguaranteed.

9:06am: The Dolphins picking up Jaylen Waddle‘s fifth-year option bought them another year on the extension front, and coming into Thursday, only one team in the fifth-year option era had extended a wide receiver with two years of rookie-contract control remaining. Miami will join Philadelphia in bucking this trend.

Waddle and the Dolphins are in agreement on a three-year deal worth $84.75MM, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This deal, which had been on Miami’s radar for a bit, will come with a whopping $76MM guaranteed. With Waddle’s option exercised, this will tie the 2021 first-rounder to the Dolphins through the 2028 season.

[RELATED: Early Extensions For First-Rounders In Fifth-Year Option Era]

In terms of average annual value, Waddle’s $28.25MM number checks in fourth at wide receiver — between the 2022 deals given to Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams. While Waddle’s deal comes in south of the pacts given to A.J. Brown and 2021 draft classmate Amon-Ra St. Brown earlier this year in terms of AAV, it includes more in total guarantees than Hill received two years ago. Waddle’s $76MM guaranteed comes in behind only Brown ($84MM) and St. Brown ($77MM). It is not yet known how much the Dolphins are guaranteeing Waddle at signing.

This breaks with trends on multiple fronts. The Eagles struck early on a deal with ex-Waddle Alabama teammate DeVonta Smith, giving the slender target a three-year, $75MM extension earlier this offseason. In the option era (2014-present), that marked the first instance of a team extending a rookie-deal wideout with two seasons of control remaining. The Dolphins are wading into deeper waters by comparison, now employing two of the NFL’s top five highest-paid wideouts in Hill and Waddle.

Illustrating the increased value of the receiver market, the Dolphins join the Eagles, Buccaneers, Bears and Texans with two $20MM-per-year WRs. Though, only Philly and Miami have two wideouts at $20MM per annum through 2026.

Hill’s $30MM-per-year agreement, the position’s top number between March 2022 and April 2024, included a lofty final-year salary to prop up the AAV. Waddle’s accord, per’s Mike Garafolo, does not contain any fluff to reach the $28.25MM-per-year figure. It will now be interesting to see if the Dolphins adjust their All-Pro wideout’s deal, which runs through 2026. While Hill’s contract carries that oft-referenced $30MM-per-year average, the future Hall of Famer’s guarantees run out by 2025. And Hill has long been viewed as unlikely to play on his 2026 base salary ($43.9MM), setting up another negotiation between the parties.

As for Waddle, he has joined Smith in providing quality WR2 work in a high-octane offense. The Dolphins, who slid down nine spots to help the 49ers add Trey Lance in 2021, traded a future first-round pick to climb from No. 12 to No. 6 for Waddle in that draft. They ended up with an instant weapon, albeit one that dropped into a No. 2 role once the team acquired Hill in 2022.

Waddle, 25, has ripped off three straight 1,000-yard seasons to start his career. His 3,385 receiving yards through three seasons rank 16th in NFL history. Though, that number sits third in his own draft class — behind St. Brown and Ja’Marr Chase. Waddle is, however, the first player in Dolphins history to start a career with three straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Although Waddle missed three games last season, he had only missed one contest over his first two years. In 17 games alongside Hill in 2022, Waddle totaled 1,356 yards and eight touchdown receptions. The younger of Miami’s two elite WR speedsters led the NFL with 18.1 yards per reception that season, playing a central role in Tua Tagovailoa‘s ascent under Mike McDaniel. Waddle’s 2.73 yards per route run ranks fourth in the NFL (among wideouts with 800-plus routes run) over the past two years, per ESPN.

The Dolphins have not yet extended Tagovailoa, but they are committing to his former Crimson Tide target early. That could certainly prove wise, given where the WR market could end up by offseason’s end.

The Vikings and Cowboys face the prospect of approaching or surpassing the $35MM-per-year mark for their top wideouts — Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb — and this Waddle extension will likely impact the 49ers’ talks with fellow 2020 first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk. The Bengals have some time with Chase, but seeing as three other receivers from the 2021 draft are now signed to second contracts, the price is rising for Cincinnati.

For Miami, it will be interesting to see how the team proceeds with Tagovailoa. The talented QB’s talks, which have already produced one rejected offer, remain the centerpiece storyline in this Dolphins offseason. A re-up beyond the $50MM-plus going rate will change the equation for the Dolphins, who now have both Tagovailoa’s top weapons locked up long term. While the team acted early with Waddle, Tagovailoa is in a contract year.

The Colts are believed to have targeted Waddle in Jonathan Taylor trade talks with the Dolphins last year, but GM Chris Grier predictably shot down that ask. Less than a year later, Waddle is tied to the Dolphins for five more seasons. Dolphins’ decision with the fifth-year veteran will overshadow its other moves, though this Waddle pact continues an impactful offseason on the receiver front and will impact other teams conducting WR extension talks.

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