Mike Tannenbaum

This Date In Transactions History: Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins Agree To Extension

The Dolphins are currently navigating a quarterback extension, as the front office is working with Tua Tagovailoa on a lucrative second contract. Almost a decade ago, the team found themselves in a very similar situation.

On this date in 2015, the Dolphins signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to an extension. The six-year, $96MM extension included $45MM guaranteed, and it was intended to cover the last year of the quarterback’s rookie deal, the fifth-year option season, and four additional free agent years.

At the time, it was hard to be overly critical of Miami’s long-term commitment to the former first-round pick. Tannehill topped 3,000 passing yards in each of his first three seasons in the NFL, and he improved on his touchdown totals in each of his campaigns (culminating in a 2014 season where he tossed 27 scores). While the Dolphins had yet to break through with a postseason run, the team’s worst showing through Tannehill’s first three seasons was a 7-9 mark during his rookie campaign.

There was some urgency on the Dolphins’ part to complete a deal. Tannehill was one of four QBs from the 2012 draft class (along with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson) to be eyeing lucrative extensions, and Miami assured they wouldn’t be boxed into a corner by completing the first deal from that group. Luck ended up getting $140MM from the Colts while Wilson got around $88MM on a four-year deal with the Seahawks (Griffin never got a second contract from Washington). When compared to his draftmates, Tannehill’s average annual value didn’t break the bank.

Of course, the move didn’t come without risk. This was the first major move by Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins’ new executive vice president of football operations. It was Tannenbaum’s decision to hand Mark Sanchez a sizable extension in New York that ultimately led to the executive’s ouster. Tannenbaum wasn’t looking to make the same mistake twice.

“We are thrilled that we were able to sign Ryan to an extension,” Tannenbaum said at the time (via the Miami Herald). “He is an ascending talent, a team leader and checks all of the boxes you are looking for at the position.”

While the Dolphins dropped to 6-10 during Tannehill’s first year playing on the extension, the QB continued to validate the organization’s decision. The fourth-year player tossed a career-high 4,045 passing yards that season, making him the fourth QB in NFL history to top 3,000 passing yards in each of his first four seasons. The Dolphins took a step forward during Tannehill’s fifth season at the helm, with the team finally earning a playoff nod. However, after going 8-5 through the first 13 games, Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury that knocked him out for the postseason.

That injury ended up greatly altering Tannehill’s ability to finish his contract with Miami. The quarterback opted for rehab over surgery to his injured ACL, allowing him to be on the field for the start of 2017 training camp. However, he suffered another injury during the first day of 11-on-11 drills, and he eventually went under the knife to repair the torn ACL.

That following offseason, the Dolphins faced a major cap crunch. While Tannenbaum could have moved on from Tannehill (via release or trade) without any financial penalty, the executive instead reworked the player’s contract. That move temporarily opened up some breathing room under the cap, but it also kicked some sizable guaranteed money down the road. That decision ended up greatly reducing the organization’s return for the QB a year later.

Tannehill returned in time for the 2018 campaign but was forced to miss a chunk of games due to a shoulder injury. After the Dolphins were forced to rely on their QB2 for three-straight seasons, the team finally decided to cut bait on their franchise signal caller. During the 2019 offseason, the Dolphins traded Tannehill to the Titans for draft compensation. The QB agreed to rip up his contract with Tennessee, locking him into a one-year prove-it deal for the 2019 campaign.

Tannehill bounced back in a big way that season, earning his first career Pro Bowl nod while guiding the Titans to a 7-3 regular season record and a pair of postseason victories. That performance earned him a new contract from the Titans, a four-year, $118MM pact. Tannehill continued to guide a playoff squad in Tennessee for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but he had an inconsistent role in 2022 and 2023 following the additions of Malik Willis and Will Levis. The 35-year-old is currently a free agent.

Nine years after signing the extension, things couldn’t have worked out much better for Tannehill. Of course, that doesn’t mean the quarterback didn’t take a handful of risks. For starters, much of his future guaranteed money was only due if Tannehill played, meaning he could have been cut at any time without any penalty (an advantage that the Dolphins squandered following that aforementioned restructuring). Tannehill also could have played hard ball with the Titans with the hope of getting cut, but he ultimately fave up some significant future money as he looked to rehabilitate his image. That gamble immediately worked out for the QB, as the Titans signed him to his third contract.

While the Dolphins never reached the success they were surely envisioning when they extended Tannehill, the team at least waved the white flag at the right time. Following a bridge season with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, the team quickly found their future answer at QB in Tagovailoa. Of course, that glass-half-full perspective wasn’t enough to save Tannenbaum’s job. The executive was reassigned from his role in 2018, and while it was the Dolphins’ entire body of work that led to his demotion/firing, the Tannehill restructuring in 2018 certainly didn’t help.

As the Dolphins look to sign Tagovailoa to a second contract, the top decision makers will surely proceed with caution after seeing how things unfolded with their last major QB investment.

Executive Mike Tannenbaum Joins ESPN

It sounds like Mike Tannenbaum has officially left the Dolphins. The former executive is set to join ESPN as an analyst, as Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com relays. Besides appearing on NFL programming, Tannenbaum will also be participating in the network’s 2019 draft coverage on ESPN Radio.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” Tannenbaum told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “I’ve always admired the people and professionals at ESPN, and I’m excited to be a part of the team.”

The Dolphins re-assigned the executive vice president of football operations back in January, and while he was still technically an employee for the past few months, he wasn’t expected to contribute to the team’s offseason plans. The move was considered to be “quiet sendoff” for the longtime front office executive, with Tannenbaum still receiving money for the final two years of his contract. General manager Chris Grier earned a promotion and will now oversee all football operations.

Tannenbaum spent more than a decade with the Jets organization, compiling a 57-55 regular season record and three playoff births during his seven years as general manager. Tannenbaum joined the Dolphins as a consultant in 2014, and he was soon hired in a front office role. Since he stepped into the football operations role in 2015, the Dolphins had a 29-35 record with only one playoff appearance.

Latest On Dolphins, Mike Tannenbaum

The Dolphins re-assigned executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum earlier this week, and in turn promoted general manager Chris Grier to oversee the club’s personnel department. Tannenbaum won’t have any role in decision-making going forward, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, who adds Tannenbaum likely won’t be around when the draft occurs in April.

Although he’s still technically a member of the organization, Tannenbaum won’t be doing any more work for the Dolphins. Indeed, Salguero deems Tannenbaum’s re-assignment as a something of a “quiet sendoff” for the longtime front office executive. Grier will take over as Miami’s football czar, taking on authority he didn’t previously have as the club’s general manager. Tannenbaum, meanwhile, will continue to be paid for the remaining two years on his contract.

Grier, for his part, will not only oversee a roster in need of rebuilding, but is in the process of hiring a new head coach. Whomever the Dolphins select as their next head coach will report to Grier and not to owner Stephen Ross, reversing a setup Miami used when it employed Adam Gase. The Dolphins are interested in a number of candidates, including Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and — possibly — Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

Dolphins Promote Chris Grier, Demote Mike Tannenbaum

Firing Adam Gase wasn’t the only major change the Dolphins made today. The team also announced they were promoting Chris Grier to oversee football operations while demoting Mike Tannebaum from that post, per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN (Twitter link).

Grier had been the GM but didn’t have decision making power and reported to Tannebaum, but those roles will now be reversed. Gase had contractual control over the 53-man roster during his tenure, but the new coach will have far less power. Whoever the new coach is will report to Grier and not to owner Stephen Ross like Gase did, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

While the Dolphins building was filled with internal drama and infighting, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets that Grier was the “one who remained above the fray, and could work with anyone”, which in part led to his promotion. Grier came up as a scout in the Patriots’ organization before he was hired by the Dolphins in 2000. He was promoted to the role of director of college scouting in 2007, and then to general manager in 2016.

It was reported last week that Tannebaum was on the way out, so his demotion isn’t a surprise. He’ll remain with the team for now in a lesser role, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he exited soon. With the team set to move on from Ryan Tannehill, Grier will have his hands full with finding a new head coach as well as a new franchise quarterback. It looks like a full-blown rebuild is in store for Miami.

Latest On Adam Gase, Dolphins

We have heard some conflicting reports about Dolphins head coach Adam Gase‘s future with the club over the course of the last week or so. On December 26, we heard that Gase is expected to remain in Miami in 2019, but just yesterday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that owner Stephen Ross is definitely considering moving on from Gase.

Today, Rapoport reiterated that Gase could indeed be coaching his last game with the Dolphins this afternoon (video link). But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that both Gase and GM Chris Grier are likely to be retained. And, while it has been expected that the club would at least move on from vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum, JLC suggests that Tannenbaum could simply be given another role within the organization.

Grier has been with the Dolphins since 2000, and while he holds the GM title, he does not have final authority over football decisions. La Canfora indicates that Grier’s voice could be afforded greater weight in 2019, as owner Stephen Ross has long been fond of him, and if Tannenbaum is fired or moved, Grier may not have a personnel executive above him. After all, since Gase is the one who has final say over the 53-man roster, it seems unlikely that the Dolphins could keep Gase and attract a high-level executive from another club (like Vikings assistant GM George Paton), so Gase and Grier could be calling the shots next season. The two men reportedly work well together.

The lack of top-tier coaching talent in this year’s cycle is one reason why Gase could stay, along with the fact that Gase has done a reasonably good job considering what he’s had to work with. La Canfora writes that Ross remains high on University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh — despite Ross’ public remarks that he would not pursue Harbaugh — and while Harbaugh is expected to stay in Ann Arbor next year, sources close to him believe he will return to the NFL at some point. If that happens, Ross will be interested.

East Notes: Eagles, Sproles, Dolphins, Redskins

The Eagles will have plenty of roster decisions to make heading into the 2019 season. Two of the names at the top of the list include veteran running Darren Sproles and oft-injured linebacker Jordan Hicks, Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com writes.

After originally declaring this as his final season, Sproles has looked like a vintage version of himself, leading many to wonder if he would come back for his 15th NFL season. One person who would love to have the pass-catching back return is Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

“I think Darren Sproles would be a great addition” for 2019, Pederson said. “He’s a great leader. he works hard, he’s a great mentor to a lot of young players. I think anybody would love to have a Darren Sproles. I mean, I would.”

He didn’t offer the same ringing endorsement for Hicks. Despite being a noted playmaker who ranks third on the team in tackles in 2018, the Texas Longhorns product has missed 21 games in his first four seasons, including four this season.

“I’ll worry about the roster in the spring when I get to the spring,” Pederson said. “Jordan’s been a big part of our success here and he helped us win the game last week and he’ll help us win another on Sunday.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Sticking with the Eagles, thanks once again to Nick Foles, the team is currently in the fight for the last playoff spot in the NFC. Should they make it, there will undoubtedly be a contingent of fans hoping Philly will bring back the veteran in 2019. However, that is unlikely to happen, writes Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Brandt. With Foles on the books for $20MM next year, it is much more likely the Eagles do not exercise his option and make him a free agent. If he goes on another magical run in January, however, every option has to be on the table.
  • Dolphins vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum is not expected back with the team in 2019, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. The move would end his four-year run with the team. Head coach Adam Gase is expected to be retained. Salguero also has heard a few of the names as possible replacements include Dan Marino and Dawn Aponte.
  • Following the release of D.J. Swearinger, one of the Redskins’ top needs this season has quickly become safety, Ben Standig of NBC Sports writes. Coupled with the potential departure of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Redskins would be down both of their safeties heading into 2019. Should they address the issue in the draft, the team could target Alabama’s Deionte Thompson or Virginia’s Juan Thornhill, two of the top-ranked prospects at free and strong safety, respectively.

Dolphins Will Not Pursue Jim Harbaugh

A report linking another AFC East team to a Jim Harbaugh pursuit emerged, and a second NFL owner is denying that is the case.

Like Jets chairman Christopher Johnson, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross publicly shot down Harbaugh rumors. Ross told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson he will not make a push for Harbaugh to replace Adam Gase, who is not a certainty to be fired after this season. Ross is a Michigan alum and would prefer Harbaugh stay in Ann Arbor, per Jackson (Twitter link).

This does not, however, mean Gase is safe. The Dolphins are exploring big-picture changes, with those in power attempting to solidify their positions in the event Ross restructures the franchise’s decision-making hierarchy. Another season featuring Gase and executive VP Mike Tannenbaum working together would surprise SI.com’s Albert Breer, who adds Miami is likely to make a change “at some level.”

While it’s not certain which way Ross is leaning here, Breer adds that GM Chris Grier would have a better chance of staying if Gase is retained. Grier has been with the Dolphins since 2000.

As for Gase, the third-year HC said he will not lobby to keep his job. Gase and Ross have not discussed his future, per Jackson. Las Vegas had the Dolphins pegged as a frontrunner for the 2019 No. 1 pick at this season’s outset, but Gase has the team at 7-8. He ended the Dolphins’ lengthy playoff drought in 2016 but has a sub-.500 record since, though many of those games did not feature Ryan Tannehill.

Dolphins Eyeing Major Changes?

While the Dolphins still have a chance at making the postseason, there are whispers that some major members of the organization could still lose their jobs. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes that coaches and front office staff are quietly trying to “solidify their power” in case owner Stephen Ross decides to make major changes this offseason. Sources tell Salguero that vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Adam Gase are among those on the hot seat.

Among Ross’s top trio of football executives, Salguero says Tannenbaum is the most likely to get fired. The 49-year-old joined the organization back in 2015, and he’s been a major “facilitator of what the Dolphins have decided their philosophy will be,” which includes fielding a competitive team while building for the future. General manager Chris Grier reports to Tannenbaum, and the executive “oversees and coordinates the effort of football operations and administration.”

Working against Tannenbaum has been the team’s middling record since he joined the organization; the team is 23-23 since he took on a major role, and the team’s future outlook isn’t all that encouraging. Working in his favor is his relationship with Dolphins vice chairman Matt Higgins, who has the ear of Ross. The two have a relationship dating back to their tenure with the Jets, and Higgins has been Tannenbaum’s “most powerful ally and advocate” in Miami.

Meanwhile, Gase has refused to publicly blame injuries or talent for the team’s 7-7 record. However, sources tell Salguero that the head coach is quietly attributing his team’s performance to injuries, and that has been one of Gase’s main reasons for why he should ultimately keep his job. Gase has the support of both Grier and team vice chairman, president and CEO Tom Garfinkel, and he also has a good relationship with Tannenbaum.

Unfortunately for Gase, he doesn’t have a similar relationship with Higgins, who some believe may be pushing for a replacement. Salguero also points out that Ross wouldn’t be afraid to replace the head coach, even though Gase is still owed millions of dollars.

The Dolphins, who currently sit as the AFC’s ninth seed, will face off against the Jaguars and Bills in their final two regular season contests.

AFC Draft Rumors: Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens

After trading down a few weeks ago, could the Dolphins trade back up? Miami will consider moving up from No. 13 in order to grab either Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott or UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, multiple sources tell Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. Moving up from No. 13 to the top ten can be pricey, but top exec Mike Tannenbaum has said that he would be open to such a move for the right player.

Here’s are the latest NFL Draft rumors out of the AFC:

  • The Steelers, currently slated to pick 25th overall in this year’s draft, are unlikely to trade up, but moving down remains on the table, general manager Kevin Colbert said today (Twitter link via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
  • In the wake of the two major trades at the top of the draft, there’s a chance that Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil will still be on the board at No. 6 for the Ravens. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun explores that scenario, examining whether it would make sense for the club to pass up a top defensive prospect to fortify the left tackle spot.
  • The Chargers are expected to select a tight end at some point during this week’s draft — it’s just a matter of when. We heard last week that the team is considering Ohio State’s Nick Vannett, and Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune takes a closer look at the young tight end as a potential target for the Bolts.
  • Clemson linebacker B.J. Goodson met with 15 teams in total, via either a pre-draft visit or private workout, and the Texans were one of those teams, writes Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The Dolphins and Jets are among the teams that have shown interest in University of Minnesota cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), who suggests that Boddy-Calhoun will likely either be a day three pick or an undrafted free agent.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC East Notes: Tannehill, Campbell, Whaley

With the Senior Bowl wrapped up and all four AFC East teams in offseason mode as Super Bowl 50 nears, let’s look at the latest news coming out of the division, starting with the Dolphins.

  • Ryan Tannehill‘s inconsistency notwithstanding, Mike Tannenbaum‘s seen enough from the fifth-year quarterback to avoid spending a draft pick or signing a free agent for legitimate competition, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. This isn’t too surprising. Miami gave Tannehill $77MM in new money last May to be their franchise quarterback, and ending a year that began with playoff expectations at 6-10, the team has other pressing needs.
  • The Dolphins have quite a few issues to sort out over the coming offseason, but chief among them will be overhauling their linebacking unit, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Kelvin Sheppard proved enough at middle linebacker, but per Salguero, the club is aware that it needs an upgrade at that spot. Further, Miami is likely to replace one of its two outside linebackers, with Koa Misi being the most obvious candidate to be cut given his 2016 cap charge of roughly $4.88MM (the Dolphins could save $4.3MM by making him a post-June 1 release). For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus graded Misi as the highest of Miami’s three ‘backers (No. 21), while Jelani Jenkins and Sheppard rated Nos. 38 and 84, respectively, among 97 qualifiers.
  • Although interim coach Dan Campbell reportedly did not take losing out to Adam Gase with the Dolphins well, the team’s interim coach last season still could have joined Gase’s staff but instead chose to join the Saints’ staff as assistant head coach/tight ends coach, Jackson writes. The Dolphins, however, prevented multiple teams from hiring special teams coach Darren Rizzi.
  • The Bears denied outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt to speak with Gase about becoming the Dolphins’ defensive line coach, Jackson reports, but Hurtt coming to Miami once his contract expires after this season could still be on the table. A former Miami Hurricanes assistant, Hurtt would be an attractive option, per Jackson, if the Fins’ front falters under Terrell Williams, who got the job after Chicago chose to block Hurtt’s path.
  • One GM told Lisa Wilson of the Buffalo News the Bills are trapped in “8-8 limbo” without certainty at quarterback and little money to spend this offseason. Another informed the reporter he applauded the team’s patience regarding Doug Whaley and resisting the urge to start over as many teams do in the Bills’ situation. Owners of the longest NFL playoff drought, the Bills are currently $3.4MM over the salary cap, per OverTheCap, but have strung together their most wins in a two-year span (17) since 1999-2000, the former season representing Buffalo’s last playoff advancement. Tyrod Taylor will also only count $3.13MM against the Bills’ cap next season.
  • Whaley also justified bringing in embattled veteran DC Rob Ryan as an assistant to help enhance Rex Ryan‘s productivity while helping unite the brothers against their critics. “If you look at it, Rob and Rex, they’ve had some troubles,” Whaley told media, including Wilson. “Their name is kind of like, ‘Hey, they’re the Ryans, what happened to their defense?’ So why not bring in your brother and try to reclaim that name? That’s the way I look at it. And who’s going to have your back more than your brother? I think it’s a positive. I know it’s a positive. Everybody in the building feels it’s a positive. It’s a positive for Rex, too. It can help him expand his horizons as the head coach and get into some other things.”

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report