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The Miami Dolphins rewarded Jason Sanders for the career year he had in 2020 by signing the kicker to an extension that could keep him in Miami through the 2026 season.
According to a league source, Sanders received a five-year deal that could be worth $22 million, and it includes $10 million in guaranteed money.
The new deal makes Sanders one of the NFL’s highest paid kickers, paying him an average salary of $4.4 million a season.
According to the league source, the new contract exceeds the five-year, $20.2 million deal Will Lutz got from the New Orleans Saints in 2019, and the five-year, $22.2 million deal Harrison Butker got from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019. However, the exact details of Sanders’ deal won’t be known until it is officially turned into the league.
Last season Sanders tied a team record that was set by Olindo Mare in 1999 when he finished the season with 144 points.
The 36 field goals Sanders made were the second-most in the NFL in 2020 and second-most in Dolphins history.
His 92.3 field goal percentage was the best in single-season history, and got him named as a first-team All Pro.
Sanders, whom the Dolphins selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, is the franchise’s all-time career leader in field goal percentage (86.5), converting 77-of-89 field goal attempts in his three seasons.
Sanders happened to be one of three members of that 2018 Dolphins draft class pursuing a new deal this offseason.
Linebacker Jerome Baker, who has led the team in tackles for the past two seasons, and tight end Mike Gesicki, who has spent the past two seasons blossoming as a pass catching threat, are each entering the final year of their four-year rookie deals.
Gesicki, who caught 53 passes for 703 yards and scored six touchdowns last season, would like to be paid like one of the NFL’s elite tight ends, landing a contract that pays him north of $8 million a season.
And Baker, who contributed 111 tackles, seven sacks and forced two fumbles, likely seeks a salary that pays him $9 million plus a season. There are 18 inside linebackers who pull in more than $9 million a season.
The Dolphins also have to address punter Matt Haack’s status as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Haack’s 39.9 career net average is the best in Dolphins history.
His 26 punts put inside the 20-yard line last season were tied for the sixth-most in the NFL.
Haack earned $2.13 million last season after receiving a restricted free agent tender from the Dolphins, but he’ll be allowed to negotiate a contract with every team in the NFL if the Dolphins don’t sign him before the start of free agency, which begins on March 15 with the legal negotiating period.
March 17 is the first day of the league’s new year, which is when any deals agreed to during the previous two days can become official.
The Dolphins have 18 impending free agents, but one (offensive lineman Adam Pankey) is a restricted free agent, and another four (cornerbacks Nik Needham and Jomal Wiltz, linebacker Calvin Munson and quarterback Jake Rudock) are exclusive right free agents, which means the team can give them one-year deals for the NFL minimum and hold onto their rights in 2022 as restricted free agents.
Whether Miami places a restricted tender on Pankey, likely an original round tender, which would pay him $2.2 million, is unknown. But also unlikely because of his role as a backup.
Of the 13 unrestricted free agents, six of them - Haack, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, center Ted Karras, linebackers Vince Biegel and Elandon Roberts - were starters for the Dolphins at some point the past two seasons.