Ryan Tannehill, the Tennessee Titans’ starting quarterback who won Comeback Player of the Year in 2019, needs a new contract.
Here’s what an extension with the Titans, or a contract with a different team in free agency, could look like.
MOST COMPARABLE CONTRACT
Based on similarities between the two players, QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s 2019 contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers makes a lot of sense in terms of a comparison with Tannehill.
Garoppolo’s deal carries an annual average value of $27.5 million with a total of $137 million over five years. $48.7 million of that total is guaranteed.
Like Tannehill, Garoppolo had a limited sample size with his team when he signed an extension, though Garoppolo’s was much smaller than Tannehill’s.
Garoppolo had started just five games with the 49ers when the gave him his payday, whereas Tannehill started 13 games for the Titans in 2019.
With that being the case, it would seemingly be impossible for the Titans to use Tannehill’s limited experience with the franchise as any sort of leverage.
Not only did he start more than twice the number of games that Garoppolo did before getting his extension, but Tannehill has also been a full-time starter since entering the league. He’s started 98 games, total, in the NFL, compared to Garoppolo’s seven when he signed his deal.
One advantage that Garoppolo’s situation had to the one that Tannehill currently sits in is age. Garoppolo signed his deal at age 28, while Tannehill will be 32 by the start of next season.
The balance of similarities and differences between Tannehill and Garoppolo’s situations as impending free agents probably means that Garoppolo’s extension is the floor for what Tannehill can reasonably expect to get.
The franchise tag is certainly a possible option for the Titans when it comes to Tannehill, but it doesn’t seem to be a wise one.
Should the Titans choose to franchise tag Tannehill, they would owe him around $27.067 million, a projection made by former NFL agent Joel Corry.
That figure is nearly $500,000 less than the annual average of Garoppolo’s contract, so the Titans would get a slight financial benefit in 2020. Beyond that, though, things would get tricky.
The worst-case scenario for the Titans’ brass, should they choose to tag Tannehill, is that he regresses from his outstanding 2019 production and forces them into a Kirk Cousins-style situation where they can’t make up their minds as to whether to commit to Tannehill.
The best-case scenario would obviously be for Tannehill to, again, perform at a high level. That would also be a costly proposition for the Titans, though, as Tannehill’s value would increase and they would almost be forced into a long-term extension.
Seemingly, it would be in the Titans’ best interest, if they do want to keep Tannehill, to lock him up to a longterm contract now rather than later. If they use the tag, it should merely be as a placeholder for further negotiations.
TOO MUCH MONEY
While Tannehill will almost certainly be able to get a bigger deal than Garoppolo’s, he probably won’t reach the territory of QB Jared Goff’s 2019 deal with the Rams.
Goff got a four-year deal in the middle of the 2019 season worth up to $134 million. $57.042 million of that is guaranteed
Based on the early returns, the Rams may regret signing Goff to that extension.
While Goff did help the Rams to the Super Bowl in 2018, he’s prone to mind-bending turnovers and stretches of complete inadequacy.
Similarly, the Eagles may feel a bit of buyer’s remorse for giving their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, a similarly large extension in the summer of 2019.
Wentz is critical to the Eagles’ success, but his history of injuries and mediocre production in 2019 probably prevents him from actually being worth $32 million per year.
MOST LIKELY CONTRACT
Based on recent precedents, it seems likely that Tannehill’s annual average value will come out to somewhere between $28 million and $30 million.
He’s going to get more than Garoppolo and a higher figure than the franchise tag, but eclipsing the $30 million mark would also mean eclipsing the annual average value of Matt Ryan’s 2018 extension with the Falcons.
Ryan, unlike Tannehill, has been a consistently top-tier NFL quarterback for many years and has an NFL MVP award under his belt.
When it comes to length, Tannehill can probably expect a four-year deal. It would make sense, considering his age, to not get a five-year contract, which would keep him on a team’s books through his age-36 season.
Four years is also what the Rams and Eagles gave Goff and Wentz, respectively.
As for guarantees, Tannehill has the leverage to get around half of his total contract value set in stone.
PROJECTED CONTRACT FOR RYAN TANNEHILL
- Length: Four years
- Total value: $117 million
- Guaranteed money: $57.213 million
- Average annual value: $29.25 million
Cover image: Evan Habeeb/USA Today