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Checking in on Ryan Tannehill’s Contract Incentives

What incentives have already been met and which could hit in the next four games?

Tennessee Titans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Ryan Tannehill has been one of the hottest quarterbacks in football over the past month and a half. You’ve heard all the stats by now, first in passer rating, first in yards per attempt, and in their last three games, the Titans lead the NFL in points per game (with a little help from some special teams and defensive touchdowns).

Shortly after the Titans announced that Ryan Tannehill would start at quarterback in Week 7, Ian Rapoport detailed the incentives in his contract.

We know of course that the Dolphins will pay $5M of the $6.75M guaranteed/$7M base salary. The one-year contract could be worth up to $12M+ if Tannehill hits every incentive, and it would be the Titans who pay that additional $5M.

$250K roster bonus if he’s active for 13 or more games.

Tannehill will hit this incentive when he’s active for the Week 14 game against the Raiders.

$100K bonus for being named a starter or reserve for the Pro Bowl.

Based on the love the media has recently shown him, I think Tannehill actually has a great shot at making the Pro Bowl roster, likely earning himself another $100K.

$250K for a passer rating of 92.8 with a minimum of 224 attempts. This can become $500K with a 94.0 rating, $750K with a 95.0 rating and $1M with a rating of better than 96.0.

Tannehill’s current passer rating on the season is 113.9. It would take a string of terrible performances for his passer rating to fall below the 96.0 threshold required for him to make another $1M. He does have a minimum pass attempts number to reach, which he’s currently on pace to pass by 11 attempts. It might be close.

$500K with 2,250 passing yards. This escalates to $750K with 2,750 passing yards and becomes $1M if he eclipses 3,000.

This one will be tricky. If you project his 6-game average out to the rest of the season, he’d finish with 2,430 yards. That would give him another $500K. If Henry is running really well, he might not hit 2,250. If the Titans fall behind or find themselves in some shoot-outs, it’s not impossible for him to average 287 yards per game over the final four and hit the $750K bonus.

$250K with 18 passing TDs, but that becomes $500K with 20 TD passes, $750K with 23 passing TDs, and $1M with 25 passing TDs.

Tannehill has thrown 2 touchdown passes in 3 straight games. He currently has 12 passing touchdowns on the season, which means he needs to average 1.5 passing touchdowns per game over the last 4 to hit the low-end of this incentive. 2 touchdowns per game will give him $500K, and he’ll need 2.75 per game to hit $750K. If he somehow can average 3.25, he’ll hit $1M.

$100K for each game during the season that he plays more than 50 percent of snaps (up to $1.8 million total awards) provided his team achieves statistical improvements in categories such as touchdowns, total offense, net yards, sacks allowed, etc compared to the 2016 season. He can also earn this with individual improvements in categories such as TDs, completion percentage, etc.

There is a very interesting detail in this in this one: “compared to the 2016 season.” Not an improvement over the current season, but over the 2016 performance.

In 2016, the Titans averaged 358 yards per game on offense and scored 23.8 points per game.

Tannehill’s Titans (since week 7) are averaging 369 yards per game and 29.7 points per game. If you subtract the non-offensive touchdowns, the average is 27.3 points per game, still well above the 23.8 average from 2016.

So, barring some offensive setbacks, Tannehill is on track to earn another $1M with this incentive.

$25K per game that the team wins and he participates more than 50 percent, with the maximum award being $400K.

Tannehill is 5-1; that’s $125K with the possibility for up to $100K more with 4 games left.

In total, Tannehill has already earned $975K in incentives with the roster bonus, statistical improvements, and wins. With everything else, he’s likely going to net out somewhere between $1.15M and $2.1M beyond that (assuming he hits the attempts threshold for passer rating).

So the Titans will likely lose $3M that would’ve rolled over to next year’s salary cap, but in fact they will get back about $2M in cap space that was allocated for Tannehill’s incentive possibilities that he won’t reach. Hopefully he hits every incentive though because that likely means the Titans go 4-0 over the final month of the season.

I find all this contract incentive stuff pretty fascinating, particularly the comparison to the Titans 2016 season.

James and I discussed these incentives and more on our latest podcast, which you can check out in the feed below between this article and the comments.