Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins became the first of the quarterbacks who came out in the 2012 draft to sign a contract extension yesterday. The Redskins have one of those quarterbacks in Robert Griffin III. What effect will Tannehill’s deal have on Griffin?
First let’s look at the money. Tannehill was already under contract for the next two seasons with the last year of his rookie contract and the fifth-year option paying him a total of $18.3 million. The extension adds the years 2017-2020 to the deal and adds $77 million.
Tannehill’s contract gives him $21.5 million fully guaranteed at signing per Pro Football Talk. The total guaranteed money, which includes some that is currently guaranteed for injury only at the time the contract is signed, is $45 million.
So how does that compare to a contract extension that Griffin, who also has the last year of his rookie deal plus the option year left on his deal, might get? Looking at just their total career passing stats there is no reason to think that Griffin should get substantially less than Tannehill in a new contract. Here is a comparison of some key stats. (For detailed stats on each player go here for Tannehill and go here for Griffin.)
The two are equal in touchdown pass percentage and Tannehill is slightly better in avoiding sacks. But Griffin has the edge in completion percentage, interception percentage, gross yards per attempt, adjusted net yards per attempt and passer rating.
Griffin’s numbers include his stellar 2012 season, one that he did not come close to duplicating in his subsequent two seasons. But even Griffin’s 2013 season, which was widely considered to be a disappointment, was about the same as a typical Tannehill season. Here are some of Griffin’s numbers from that season compared to Tannehill’s career.
When it comes to the bottom line, wins and losses, there is no question that Tannehill’s Dolphins have been superior to Griffin’s Redskins. Miami is 23-25 in games Tannehill has started while Washington has gone 14-21 in Griffin’s starts.
However, the two quarterbacks have not had equal amounts of help when it comes to putting up wins. The Dolphins’ scoring defense has ranked 7th, 8th, and 20th in Tannehill’s three seasons; the Redskins have been 22nd, 29th, and 30th in scoring defense over the same three years.
All of the information above is the kind of data that Griffin’s agent will present to Scot McCloughan or Bruce Allen or whoever is negotiating a new contract on behalf of the Redskins, trying to argue that Griffin should get a deal at least as good as Tannehill’s or perhaps even better. But the Redskins will have plenty of data on their side to argue that Griffin isn’t worth as much as Tannehill.
Durability is the main quality that Tannehill has going for him over Griffin. The Dolphins have had him behind center for 48 of the 48 games they have played since draft him. He has been listed as questionable on the injury report just twice; other than that he has been either probably or not listed.
Griffin has started 36 of the Redskins’ 49 games since 2012 (counting the one playoff game in 2012). He missed one game due to injury as a rookie and was out six games injured last year. In addition, Griffin was “deactivated” for the last three games of 2013 and benched for performance for three starts last year. Tannehill has a clear advantage in terms of one of the most important “abilities”, availability.
The other thing that Tannehill has going for him is that he appears to be on the rise. In 2014 he posted career-best numbers in virtually every major category—completion percentage, touchdowns, interceptions, yards per attempt, passer rating, and adjusted net yards per attempt. He is doing what a young quarterback is supposed to do, learning and getting better.
Meanwhile, I’m sure it’s not necessary to detail the miserable 2014 season that Griffin had for the readers here. His arrow is currently pointed in the wrong direction.
Fortunately for both parties, it’s not necessary for Griffin and the Redskins to negotiate an extension right now. Griffin will have at least another year to try to turn things around. If he can, the $19.25 million per year that the new money in Tannehill’s contract will pay him would be well within his reach.