Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has decided to have season-ending ACL surgery on his left knee and will be placed on the injured reserve list, according to a league source.
Tannehill, the five-year veteran, was injured while scrambling from pressure during practice Aug. 3.
The Dolphins lured quarterback Jay Cutler out of retirement and signed him to a reported one-year, $10 million deal Monday.
Cutler will be the starter while Matt Moore retains backup duties.
Tannehill originally injured his knee last season against Arizona, spraining his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) when Calais Campbell hit him, causing him to miss the final three regular-season games as well as the wild-card game at Pittsburgh.
Tannehill and the Dolphins elected rehabilitation and stem-cell treatment instead of surgery, and it seemed to be a good decision. Tannehill went through the entire offseason program – OTAs (organized team activities) and mini-camp – and the first few days of training camp without a problem.
Tannehill wore a brace on his left knee throughout offseason workouts and during training camp, and was planning to wear it all through the 2017 season.
In fact, Tannehill was jokingly abrupt with reporters who questioned the stability of the knee during training camp, declaring the knee was fine and there was no need to ask further questions.
It’s unclear how long it will take Tannehill to be declared healthy again but depending on the severity of the injury it could range from eight to 12 months, which could make Tannehill, 29, available for the 2018 season.
This is the first major surgery for Tannehill’s, and it comes at a time when it seemed he was poised to have the best season of his career. Tannehill threw 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season while amassing a career-best 93.5 passer rating in his first season under coach Adam Gase.
Tannehill showed signs of improvement in decision-making, footwork and accuracy in the offseason. Last season, Gase showed the most confidence in Tannehill of any previous coach or offensive coordinator by giving him audible powers at the line of scrimmage.
On top of that, it was believed the Dolphins had compiled their most impressive array of offensive talent in Tannehill’s career among running back Jay Ajayi, wide receivers Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, and tight end Julius Thomas.
Tannehill sustained his recent injury scrambling to his right to avoid a pass rush during an 11 on 11 drill. He appeared to step awkwardly when his left knee buckled. Tannehill stayed on the ground as team trainers examined his knee. He then walked to the training room, under his own power, accompanied by team personnel and hasn’t returned to action since although he’s been a fairly regular visitor to practices in the last few days.
The Dolphins have had a rash of injuries during training camp, losing rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan for the season to an ACL injury in Thursday’s 23-20 preseason victory over Atlanta, left guard Ted Larsen to a biceps injury, and Ajayi to a concussion.
Ajayi, who remains in concussion protocol, could return soon. He participated in limited practice drills last week but still hasn’t been cleared for contact. Larsen could be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return, which could put him back on the field eight weeks after the season starts.