Skip to main content

Dolphins signing WR Jaylen Waddle to three-year, $84.75 million contract extension

Miami is the new home of the most expensive receiving duo in football.

Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle has agreed to a three-year, $84.75 million extension, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday, per sources. Waddle's extension includes $76 million in guaranteed money and vaults him into the top five highest-paid receivers in terms of average annual value ($28.25 million), joining $30 million-per-year man and Miami running mate Tyreek Hill.

The extension comes at a moment in which the Dolphins can afford to strike on one of the most productive No. 2 receivers in the NFL. In his first three seasons, Waddle has caught 251 passes for 3,385 yards and 18 touchdowns, including three straight 1,000-yard campaigns. They've learned how valuable Waddle is in coach Mike McDaniel's offense, especially when sharing the field with Hill.

Even more important is the timing. Waddle is under contract through the 2025 season at an affordable rookie rate of $8.6 million, which jumps to $15.6 million -- still a team-friendly number -- via a fifth-year option Miami already picked up in April. This means the extension he's signing this week won't kick in until 2026, and considering the rate at which the salary cap has increased in recent years, it will likely look slightly less expensive for the Dolphins by then.

The deal is both wise planning and a deserved reward for Waddle, who is clearly a key part of the Dolphins' future. It does, however, raise an eyebrow regarding Tua Tagovailoa's contract situation, which is entering its fifth and final year in 2024. Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing yards in 2023, but doesn't yet feel like a guarantee to receive a lucrative extension, perhaps instead playing 2024 on the fifth-year option in a prove-it season -- and making extensions given to his collaborators slightly awkward in the meantime.

Despite what some may claim, these deals are undoubtedly connected. A Tagovailoa extension (or franchise tag) will affect the cap one year sooner than Waddle's new deal, so getting Waddle's deal done now -- during an offseason that has already seen seven wideouts catch new contracts worth $23 million per year or more -- rather than after massive extensions for Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase send the market even higher is the correct move. And if Tagovailoa doesn't end up being worth a lucrative extension -- an unlikely, but not impossible scene to imagine -- Miami will still have a top young wideout already under contract for the future.

Tagovailoa still has more to prove than Waddle, but Waddle can help his quarterback get paid by continuing to produce as he has in his first three professional seasons. After all, Waddle has Tagovailoa to thank for throwing him the passes that lined his pockets. Everybody eats in Miami.

Related Content