Jackson, a first-round pick whose first three NFL seasons were a mix of injuries and uninspiring play, has transformed his play in his contract year. He’s one of the league’s better right tackles in 2023 and a player that the Dolphins cannot afford to lose.
And it’s a quantum leap forward that the Dolphins didn’t necessarily expect. Just eight months ago, they elected not to exercise his fifth-year option — which would have paid him $14.2 million in 2024 — after injuries limited Jackson to just two games.
But now that his production has met his ability, they have no choice to pay him — particularly given the team’s current roster composition for 2024.
Why the Miami Dolphins Paid Austin Jackson
Per NFL Media, Jackson’s extension has a base AAV of $12 million, which will make him the league’s 12th-highest-paid right tackle. The deal, whose details have since been confirmed by PFN, includes $20.7 million guaranteed and a potential $3 million more in incentives over the life of the contract.
Most importantly, it gives the Dolphins a solid foundation as they build their 2024 offensive line.
Jackson and left tackle Terron Armstead — whose cap number is $20.6 million in 2024 — now give the Dolphins two building blocks. They, along with an ascending Liam Eichenberg, are the only 2023 starters currently under contract.
For those wondering, Armstead would cost $3.5 million more against the cap to cut than keep in 2024.
Miami has also been impressed by Kion Smith, although they would probably want to find a starting left tackle if Armstead decides to retire.
Robert Hunt, the team’s excellent right guard, would presumably be next in line for an extension, although the Dolphins also will need to decide what to do with Connor Williams.
Both are on expiring contracts.
Beyond his improved play — he has allowed just two sacks in 12 games — Jackson has been the only reliable offensive lineman from a health standpoint in 2023. Not only is he the only lineman to start every game, he has logged 99% of the team’s snaps, coming off the field only in blowouts.
“When I’m working on my durability, I think I had to do just more workouts, essentially, to strengthen different parts of my body,” Jackson said of his Year 4 transformation.
“That happened to be parts of my body I’ve previously injured. So I already kind of knew what my body needs going into my fourth year, what usually hurts at different points of the season, etc. And for me, it’s just like my ankles, feet, typical stuff that offensive lineman – we run and plant every play of the game. So for me, it’s those things I worked on a lot in the offseason.”
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