Dolphins sign receiver Jaylen Waddle to lucrative extension

The Miami Dolphins locked up one of the team’s top young talents, agreeing to terms on a multiyear contract extension on Thursday, but it wasn’t the player whose impending deal has been talked about for months.

While the team continues negotiating with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on a multiyear extension that will likely make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid players, on Thursday news surfaced that Miami locked up one of Tagovailoa’s favorite weapons, agreeing to a three-year extension with receiver Jaylen Waddle that could keep him in Miami till the 2028 season.

Waddle and Miami agreed to a three-year extension worth $84.75 million, which guarantees him $76 million, according to sources. The deal will likely be finalized and signed in the coming days, likely before next week’s mandatory minicamp.

The new contract follows Miami’s decision earlier this month to trigger Waddle’s fifth-year option, which guaranteed the 25-year-old $15.6 million for the 2025 season. According to, the Dolphins gave Waddle a $18.9 million signing bonus.

His 2024 ($1 million, plus his signing bonus) and 2025 ($16 million) salaries are guaranteed. If on the roster on the third day of the 2025 league year, Waddle’s 2026 salary ($16.6 million) will be guaranteed. On the 3rd day of the 2026 league year, $15.2 million of Waddle’s 2027 salary ($23.4 million) is guaranteed. On the 3rd day of the 2027 league year the remainder of his 2027 salary is guaranteed. There are roster bonus worth $510,000 each year of the final three seasons of the deal, which carries a grand value that falls just shy of $105 million.

He averages $20.9 million on his new deal, which Waddle the second highest paid player on the team when it comes to average per year, putting him behind Tyreek Hill, who realistically earns $24 million a season when his $45 million salary in 2026, which Miami will not honor, is thrown out, and Tagovailoa. Pass rusher Bradley Chubb, who received a five-year, $110 million deal from Miami when the Dolphins traded for him in 2022, is the only other Dolphins player averaging more than $20 million a season.

The Dolphins used the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Waddle, and since joining South Florida’s NFL franchise the former Alabama standout has set a couple of NFL and franchise records.

Waddle set an NFL rookie record with 104 catches in 2021, which he turned into 1,015 yards and seven touchdowns.

He followed that up by leading the NFL in receiving yards per catch, averaging 18.1 yards per reception on the 75 passes he brought in during the 2022 season, which were turned into 1,356 yards and eight touchdowns.

Last season, despite battling numerous injuries and expressing frustration with the type of season he was having, Waddle became the first Dolphins player in franchise history to produce three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Despite only playing in 14 regular-season games, Waddle finished the season with 72 receptions, which he turned into 1,014 yards and four touchdowns.

Miami’s hope is that the addition of former Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and tight end Jonnu Smith will help the Dolphins remains the NFL’s top-ranked offense.

Waddle’s deal is comparable to the three-year, $75 million extension the Philadelphia Eagles gave DeVonta Smith, his former Alabama teammate, this offseason.

A series of NFL receivers - A.J. Brown, Mike Evans, Jerry Jeudy, Calvin Ridley and Nico Collins - have been landing lucrative deals this offseason, drastically escalating the average salary per season for the position.

The Dolphins clearly wanted to get ahead of the trend by locking Waddle up before Cincinnati’s JaMarr Chase and Tee Higgins, DallasCeeDee Lamb, and Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson landed their new contracts, pushed the receiver market up even further.

The Dolphins are experiencing a bit of financial strain this month, holding less than $2 million in cap space before agreeing Waddle’s new deal, which eats up an additional $400,000 in cap space this season. But on June 1 the franchise will receiver $18.5 million in cap space because of the June 1 release of Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard.

The Dolphins will need a substantial amount of that cap space, roughly $5.5 million in cap space, to sign the seven-player draft class, but it’s clear they intent to use some of that cap surplus to lock up some of the team’s top performers whose contracts are close to expiring.

Tagovailoa is in the final year of his deal, and will play under a fifth-year option that pays him $23.1 million if a multi-year deal isn’t agreed to. Tagovailoa’s possible extension, which will likely pay him more than $45 million a season when signed, won’t impact the team’s immediate cap space because any deal the quarterback signs would create cap space in 2024, not reduce it.

According to general manager Chris Grier, the franchise also intends on having discussions with safety Jevon Holland and his camp about extending his rookie contract, which will pay the three-year starter $3.36 million for the 2024 season. Because Holland is a former second-round pick, the Dolphins didn’t have a fifth-year option to retain his services like they did Waddle and pass rusher Jaelan Phillips.

The Dolphins could also use some of the remaining cap space to address voids on the roster, possible adding another defensive lineman, a safety, or acquiring more interior offensive lineman. However, it’s more realistic that Miami will go shopping for free agents who can improve the team’s 90-player training camp roster closer to the start of training camp, which will likely be late July.