The Cost of a Jaylen Waddle Extension Keeps Going Up for Miami Dolphins

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta Smith agreed to a three-year contract that will directly impact the Miami Dolphins' talks with Jaylen Waddle.

Jaylen Waddle went first in the draft. But Alabama teammate and long-time friend DeVonta Smith won the race for a second contract.

The Philadelphia Eagles announced Monday that Smith has agreed to a three-year extension that locks him up through 2028.

The details of that deal — which includes $75 million in new money and $51 million guaranteed — are of huge importance to the Miami Dolphins, who, like the Eagles, have financial motivation to get something done sooner rather than later.

Contract Update for Miami Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle

The Eagles made the calculated decision that extending Smith now is more advantageous than two years from now, which is the earliest Smith would have had the opportunity to hit free agency.

While Smith was technically entering the final year of his rookie contract, the Eagles on Monday also announced that they have picked up his fifth-year option ahead of next month’s deadline (at $15.6 million).

Assuming Philadelphia would have taken that same option even if an extension hadn’t materialized, the Eagles then could have used the franchise tag on Smith if a contract agreement didn’t materialize by February 2026.

While the franchise tag number for wide receivers in 2026 won’t be known for many months, a fair estimate is somewhere in the neighborhood of $27 million.

That means Smith entered these talks knowing that Eagles essentially controlled his rights for the next three seasons, with the total compensation over that time totaling an estimated $46 million.

By agreeing to this deal now, Smith got an additional $5 million in guaranteed salary over that time and didn’t have to play the year-to-year game.

So how does this apply to Waddle — who has 11 more catches and 208 more receiving yards than Smith through each player’s first three seasons?

Smith’s contract was basically a blueprint for both the Dolphins and Waddle’s agent to follow — if the two sides have an appetite to work something out this offseason.

While we don’t expect Waddle’s total value in any new deal (including 2024 and 2025 money) will reach the $27.3 million AAV that Spotrac estimates, there’s no doubt that he will fetch one of the most lucrative receiver contracts in history.

Waddle’s value is probably a fraction more than Smith’s at this point because the former is owed a million dollars more than the latter this season. So a fair estimate on the total value on a new Waddle contract would be five years, $95 million.

Again, that would include the $20 million he’s already going to make over the next two years, assuming the Dolphins trigger his fifth-year option.

Miami is in a position to absorb another big contract on their books in 2024, considering Waddle’s cap number this year is already $8.6 million, and the Dolphins will get $18.5 million more in 2024 cap space when Xavien Howard’s contract comes off the books after June 1.

The Dolphins have already signaled that they want Waddle, the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, around long-term, both in word and in deed.

If they were going to trade him, this would have been the offseason to do it, as Waddle’s value will likely never be higher due to his current contract. Any team that acquires him would control his rights for three seasons at a well-below market AAV ($15.3 million).

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But apparently, that was never a consideration.

“I said in the middle of the season, I have no thoughts of trading Jaylen Waddle,” Dolphins GM Chris Grier said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We want him here for a long time, and we think he’s a big part of our now and our future here. He’s a great person on and off the field, and we still think as good as he is, he still has runway to keep getting better.”

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