Ryan Tannehill did a whole lot to solidify his standing as the franchise quarterback in Miami in 2016, but the way his season ended leaves room for uncertainty.
Tannehill saw a campaign heading toward the playoffs with promise screech to a halt thanks to a knee injury on Dec. 11. First believed to be a torn ACL, Tannehill's injury turned out to be the less-severe ACL and MCL sprains, so less that he even returned to practice before Miami's Wild Card contest against Pittsburgh. He wasn't healthy enough to go in that game, though, leaving Miami with Matt Moore in what ended up being a blowout loss.
With the offseason in full swing for the Dolphins, the question now is what to do next with Tannehill?
Surgery on his knee is a possibility, since sprains are slight tears. Mike Tannenbaum, Dolphins executive VP of football operations, joined NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano, Daniel Jeremiah and Mike Mayock during their broadcast of Senior Bowl practice on Wednesday, and said the decision is Tannehill's. So far, it hasn't been made.
"No one test is going to make a decision for us, so we're just going to keep going through the process (and) talking to our doctors," Tannenbaum told reporters Wednesday. "Obviously Ryan's (Tannehill) very involved. We'll rely on our medical people to give us some suggestions. So we'll just see how the process plays out."
Tannenbaum added that he doesn't know if Tannehill will miss regular season time if he needs surgery.
Part of head coach Adam Gase's reasoning for not playing Tannehill in the playoffs was because the quarterback needed to demonstrate the ability to effectively escape the pocket when under pressure. He couldn't do that, and as a result spent the game on the sideline.
We won't pretend to be doctors, but another examination (including an MRI) at the end of January, more than a month after the injury would shed plenty of light on the situation in terms of how his body is healing. That should provide Miami with the proper information, options and timeline for Tannehill's return. Expect to see the quarterback wearing a brace on the affected knee whenever he returns to the field in 2017, and he'd be far from the first quarterback to do so (think Tom Brady and soon-to-be-NFLer Deshaun Watson, among others).
Considering most ACL repairs and their past timetables for recovery, it's fair to expect Tannehill and Miami to make a decision in the very near future.