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Fifth-year contract formula could push Tannehill out of top 10

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With the top two quarterbacks in the 2012 rookie class destined to be the first two picks in the 2012 draft (barring something entirely unexpected in the next six days), the player to whom the most uncertainty and intrigue attaches for round one is Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

He could go anywhere from No. 3 (if the Vikings trade down) to No. 15 (if the Eagles take him or trade down).  Seahawks G.M. John Schneider recently has said he expects Tannehill to be gone by the time Seattle exercises the 12th pick in the draft.  However, there’s one specific factor that could push Tannehill out of the top 10.

Under the new CBA, a team may sign its first-round pick to a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.  The salary for the fifth year is based on a formula that hinges on whether the player is picked in the top 10 or the next 22.

For the top 10, the salary is determined by calculating the average of the 10 highest-paid players at the pick’s position in the prior season.  For the next 22, the number is determined by calculating the average salary of the third-highest paid player at the position through the 25th highest paid player at the position in the prior season.

It’s a potentially huge difference, especially at the quarterback position.  And, by 2016, it could be a gigantic number for Tannehill, given that the 10 highest-paid quarterbacks make considerably more money than No. 3 through No. 25 on the cap-number list.

And so, after Tannehill’s fourth season in the NFL, a team that takes him in the top 10 would have to be ready to give him elite quarterback money in year five, regardless of whether he’s playing at an elite level.  Complicating matters is the possibility that Tannehill, a converted receiver, will need a year or two on the bench before being ready to play, giving a top-10 team even less time to assess whether Tannehill deserves top-10 quarterback money for 2016.

This year, the Chiefs hold the No. 11 selection in round one, and G.M. Scott Pioli recently pointed out the value that comes from the shift in the fifth-year calculation that applies at that spot.  I also addressed the situation during Friday’s PFT Live, and I misspoke regarding the precise difference between the top 10 picks and the next 22.  I incorrectly said that the top 10 players get the franchise tender under the fifth-year option.  It’s actually the transition number.

Tannehill also appeared on PFT Live today.  And I didn’t get into these nuances with him; it wouldn’t be good for the guest to fall asleep during the interview.

Still, it’s an important factor that could cause a team in the top 10 to ultimately pass on Tannehill.  If a team in the top 10 still takes him, that team is buying itself a potentially significant dilemma for the 2016 season.

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44 Responses to “Fifth-year contract formula could push Tannehill out of top 10”
  1. fcoprado says: Apr 20, 2012 5:18 PM

    Tannehill:fool’s gold

  2. packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears says: Apr 20, 2012 5:19 PM

    If he’s the quarterback you want him to be, this isn’t a problem. If he’s not, get rid of him by 5 years. This shouldn’t matter at all and would never persuade a smart team.

  3. mcjon22 says: Apr 20, 2012 5:22 PM

    How would it be a gigantic number exactly? The top 10 picks are slotted now pay wise correct? The average salary of the top 10 couldn’t be more than 10 mil could it? That’s chump change for a good starting QB.

  4. babyhorsemorgan says: Apr 20, 2012 5:23 PM

    Can’t see it being much of a factor. All the coaches and the G.M. will have been fired by then in any case. Someone else’s problem.

  5. brayden37 says: Apr 20, 2012 5:24 PM

    Nobody running a team now will care about the fallout in 5 years. The only people that might care are owners that probably should let GMs do their jobs; Washington has a QB plan, and Dallas won’t be interested in Tannehill, so it won’t matter.

  6. babyhorsemorgan says: Apr 20, 2012 5:25 PM

    Tannehill seems like a smarter Jake Locker to me. Can’t see why he would drop out of top 10.

  7. Mike Florio says: Apr 20, 2012 5:27 PM

    It’s the top 10 players league-wide at quarterback. By 2016 for the top-10 quarterbacks, it could be a giant number. Much bigger than the average of No. 3 through No. 25.

  8. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Apr 20, 2012 5:34 PM

    This is just for keeping him in Year 5. If he shows potential but isn’t worth top-10 money, you just work out a long-term contract with him for a reasonable price. Are you going to pass on a guy you think is worth a top-10 pick just because of this?

  9. rubberinnertube says: Apr 20, 2012 5:35 PM

    Seems like it’s largely a non-issue. When is the last time a productive player (IF Tannenhill is productive) played out the final year of a multi-year deal.

    Ask Darelle Revis how often he plays out the final year of his contracts. Or ask any front office how many final contract years are honored for sub-standard players.

  10. 1972wasalongtimeago says: Apr 20, 2012 5:36 PM

    Just so we’re clear, NOBODY will be freaking out in Miami if the Dolphins don’t take Tannehill at 8.

    Once we blew the Luck sweepstakes, ond once Washington showed the balls necessary to trade for #2; this season’s search for a franchise QB ended.

    We’ll be much more pissed if we panic and overpay for a non-elite QB prospect.

  11. rarelyclever says: Apr 20, 2012 5:37 PM

    “I incorrectly said that the top 10 players get the franchise tender under the fifth-year option. It’s actually the transition number.”

    How exactly is the transition tender calculated? It’s been years since anyone has bothered to use it. I seem to remember it being significantly lower than the franchise tender.

  12. medtxpack says: Apr 20, 2012 5:37 PM

    @packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears

    the way players act about $ these days with their agents,…wouldnt be shocked if it did make a team pass on him. The fact that Pioli already touched on how important the calculation is at 10/11 spot shows other GMs are watching it just as close.

    another issue is if yo uget him and he SUCKS, no one will want to pick him up and youll end up cutting him and losing money there too.

  13. ken0west says: Apr 20, 2012 5:39 PM

    Not a factor, if the phins have him 4 years he will either be worth that or not. If anything it protects fans against teams holding onto a guy to long, for a GMs job sake or whatever.

  14. realitypolice says: Apr 20, 2012 5:52 PM

    What should be pushing Tannehill out of the top 10 is his talent.

  15. Mike Florio says: Apr 20, 2012 5:54 PM

    It’s the average of the 10 highest-paid players at the position.

  16. billybatty says: Apr 20, 2012 6:07 PM

    Contracts were made to be used in lieu of toilet paper.

  17. federali says: Apr 20, 2012 6:19 PM

    If you really think this guy is an elite quarterback worth drafting in the top 10 who can take your team to the playoffs.. I don’t think having to pay him a lot in his final year where you’d be looking to do a long term deal anyway matters.

  18. chawk12thman says: Apr 20, 2012 6:25 PM

    You don’t need more than 3 years to know what you have or will have. By the 4th year if you aren’t willing to make him the elite QB of your team, you cut him and move on……what is the issue?

  19. midwestpulse says: Apr 20, 2012 6:28 PM

    I’m not a hater, but I see nothing in tannehil. Granted I thought Von Miller and Newton would be a bust last year, so what do I know.

    I am grateful that my team doesn’t feel the pressure to pick a QB like this. Dammned if you do damned if you don’t if you don’t go for or commit to a franchise QB.

    Dolphins! Browns! Don’t do it!

  20. cuffhimbanano says: Apr 20, 2012 6:33 PM

    You’re really outhinking yourself. If one of the top 10 teams drafting feels he’s going to be a franchise quarterback he’ll be gone before 11. If he doesn’t go in the first 10 the reason will have nothing to do with a 5th year option.
    Besides, if he turns into a very good QB that 5th year is going to cost a lot more than the collective bargaining formula in the form of a long term deal. I would think the team that drafts would view this as a good problem to have down the road.

  21. tfbuckfutter says: Apr 20, 2012 6:33 PM

    If he’s a decent but not exceptional QB that TEAM option gets negotiated into an EXTENSION.

    Even if he’s exceptional it will still most likely just be a point argued over in extension talks.

    Don’t think anyone will take that into consideration when the option is “A potential franchise QB or…..someone else who I’ll still have to pay an inflated salary to in the 5th year.”

  22. bigredscouting says: Apr 20, 2012 6:36 PM

    This is laughably wrong. Anyone who think Tannehill is there QB of the future isn’t going to not draft him because of one year of a contract. I expect better from you Florio, poor form. Poor form.

  23. deuce2222 says: Apr 20, 2012 6:47 PM

    Mr. Florio, what you’ve just said … is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this forum is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    In all seriousness, how complicated can the pay scales get…… They didn’t make sense before, now they really don’t…..

  24. FinFan68 says: Apr 20, 2012 6:48 PM

    Tannehill has raw talent and good measurables. He lacks experience and possibly a bit of maturity in dealing with pressure situations…and those are easily fixed. A good system geared toward his strengths and good coaching are usually the only major differences between very good QBs and average ones. If the Dolphins believe he fits well in the system they intend to use, then it really is not much of a choice. You take the kid and develop him. Waiting and hoping to grab him later on is disastrous…that’s the only reason Mallett is not a Dolphin. If he is their guy then they need to grab him at 8, if not then address a need with a very good prospect or move down for more picks. This is not as hard a decision as many are making it out to be.

  25. bobby4413 says: Apr 20, 2012 6:51 PM

    Just another reason not to draft Tannehill. The way you beat the Patsies is to rush Brady, just ask NYG fans!

  26. denverdave3 says: Apr 20, 2012 6:51 PM

    You said in an early chapter that the 5th year is an option year, presumably for the team. therefore the player is either worth it or he’s not. If not the team doesn’t extend. Then there are some other options, like renegotiate his contract at the end of the third year, or trade him.

  27. bozosforall says: Apr 20, 2012 6:53 PM

    deuce2222 says:
    Apr 20, 2012 6:47 PM
    Mr. Florio, what you’ve just said … is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this forum is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    In all seriousness, how complicated can the pay scales get…… They didn’t make sense before, now they really don’t…..

    __
    You could always “change the channel”, moron. Then again, given that “everyone in this forum is now dumber for having listened to it”, that means that you are now too dumb to even comprehend “changing the channel”, so I guess that we are stuck with your dumb arse here forever.

  28. cliffordc05 says: Apr 20, 2012 6:58 PM

    If Tannehill is drafted in the top ten and is not an elite player by year 5 there will be no problem. Those responsible for drafting him will be long gone. The salary issue is not relevant. If you think he has elite potential and will realize it then you draft him. If you pass on him and he becomes an elite player then you will be canned anyway. This is a non issue.

  29. deuce2222 says: Apr 20, 2012 7:42 PM

    bozosforall says:
    Apr 20, 2012, 6:53 PM EDT

    You could always “change the channel”, moron. Then again, given that “everyone in this forum is now dumber for having listened to it”, that means that you are now too dumb to even comprehend “changing the channel”, so I guess that we are stuck with your dumb arse here forever.

    ____

    It was an attempt to make light of an obviously difficult thing to explain. I really enjoy mike florio’s posts. I think he’s great. It was actually a movie quote, I didnt make it up and thought that Mike Florio would think it was humorous. Didn’t mean to upset you……

  30. waltdawg says: Apr 20, 2012 7:55 PM

    Well, I guess the RG3 crap is not only limited to RG3…..Stop with all of this second guessing. We are getting down to the wire.

    HAIL RG3….Save DC!

  31. philvil41 says: Apr 20, 2012 8:11 PM

    If you don’t know what you have in him after five years,then the team that picked him is at fault.If he hasn’t played enough to evaluate,then let him walk,no one else would pay him top ten money at that point either.

  32. bobhpine says: Apr 20, 2012 9:32 PM

    No team is passing on a quarterback based on a fifth year pay difference…does Florio know what top qbs make? If he’s worth keeping teams would be happy to pay whatever he fifth year salary would because it will go up a ton after that…Florio not know nfl good, no intelligent

  33. poison66 says: Apr 20, 2012 9:54 PM

    Tannehill is a 4th round pick at best. Weeden should be the 1st rounder…….

  34. pilarvirus says: Apr 20, 2012 10:02 PM

    I don’t understand why people are mocking him as a first round prospect, he’s going to be just like Brady Quinn but he’s going to be drafted in the second round.

    I don’t mean any disrespect for the kid, but it’s scary how fast he’s moving up draft boards. If he goes in the first, then I believe so should Weeden. They’ve done equally the same.

  35. frenchy121212 says: Apr 20, 2012 10:21 PM

    This whole Tannehill stuff makes me laugh. Did anyone watch the games? The dude can barely play. I thought it was joke when I heard he was going high in the draft. I kinda feel bad for him. A fan base will blame him for failing. It is not his fault someone is going to draft him 4 rounds too soon.

  36. jluns275 says: Apr 20, 2012 11:02 PM

    As a Chiefs fan, Scott Pioli’s comments make me a little nervous. I am not sold on Tannehill. Just because he’s considered the 3rd best QB in the draft doesn’t mean he’s worth a high 1st round pick. I think even 11th overall would be a reach. If the Chiefs are really in love with him, they should trade down & aquire an extra pick or two. THEN take him. He strikes me as closer to Colin Kapernick than Andy Dalton, or even Christian Ponder; the Chiefs already have 2 serviceable but not elite QBs in Matt Cassel & Brady Quinn-why use a very high pick on what is at best likely one more of the same?

  37. beeronthefridge says: Apr 20, 2012 11:13 PM

    Tannehill is a top 10 qb…in the third round.

  38. ydnubm says: Apr 21, 2012 12:09 AM

    Wow. It’s hard to come up with content in the last few days leading up to the draft.

    I can’t imagine there is a single team that is worried about what they might have to pay their starting quarterback in year 5 of a rookie contract.

    Whoever drafts him is hoping and dreaming that they can simply pay him the average of the top 10 in year 5. That’s certainly cheaper than ‘franchising’ him!

  39. bullpuppy552 says: Apr 21, 2012 1:34 AM

    Tannehill sucked in games against top talent. That is a major red flag!!! He is not Top 10 worthy let alone 1st round worthy.

  40. applecool1981 says: Apr 21, 2012 3:52 AM

    medtxpack says: Apr 20, 2012 5:37 PM

    “@packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears

    the way players act about $ these days with their agents,…wouldnt be shocked if it did make a team pass on him. The fact that Pioli already touched on how important the calculation is at 10/11 spot shows other GMs are watching it just as close.

    another issue is if yo uget him and he SUCKS, no one will want to pick him up and youll end up cutting him and losing money there too.”

    ——————————————————————————————————–

    They really wouldn’t be losing money, especially with the wage scale in place. When, they cut him instead of giving him the 5th year contract option, there will be no bonus that they owe him because his contract will have reached it’s final point. It’s a four year contract with a 5th year option. Not a five year contract with an expensive 5th year.

  41. applecool1981 says: Apr 21, 2012 3:59 AM

    I think that it’s ridiculous that pick 11 through 32 get contracts with similar provisions; if picks 1-10 get something really high, then 11-21 should get the next best provision, followed by picks 22-32. How are picks 11 and 32 equal. Rookie contract wise, they shouldn’t be.

  42. poison66 says: Apr 21, 2012 12:14 PM

    Tannehill= bust. Weeden is the safe pick…….

  43. demetrius82 says: Apr 21, 2012 4:18 PM

    If he is good then you wont need to worry about that. If he is bad, the same thing, you can just cut him before the 5th year option. This is a non-issue.

  44. mmcdan133 says: Apr 23, 2012 5:53 AM

    I am absolutely terrified that this kid is going to be sitting there at 11 when the Chiefs pick.

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