Cameron Wake finally got what he wanted — a fair-market contract.
Wake, who had quietly protested his contract by skipping the beginning of the Dolphins' offseason workouts, signed a four-year contract extension on Sunday worth $49 million ($20 million guaranteed), a league source confirmed. The team announced that the contract runs through the 2016 season.
Wake, 30, has developed into one of the NFL's most fearsome pass rushers since signing with Miami out of the Canadian Football League in 2008, collecting 22.5 sacks in his last two years as the Dolphins' top pass rusher. His contract in 2008 was a record pay-day for a CFL player — four years, $4.9 million — but Wake, a Pro Bowler in 2010, far out-performed his contract. His salary cap number for 2012 was supposed to be $790,000, ranked 30th-highest on his own team.
"We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with Cam," general manager Jeff Ireland said in a statement. "Cam has been a productive player ever since he joined the Dolphins, and has been a great teammate and an outstanding citizen. His work ethic and professionalism on the field and in the locker room has made him a leader by example. We also appreciate all the community activities he has done. We always try to reward our own players for their contributions to the team and Cam certainly deserves that recognition."
He didn't get a Mario Williams pay day — the Bills gave him $50 million guaranteed this offseason — but Wake received a contract that puts him on par with the league's top pass rushers. If Wake fulfills his contract, his $12.25 million average salary puts him below Williams ($16 million), Julius Peppers ($14 million) and Charles Johnson ($12.667 million) but ahead of Jared Allen ($12.21 million), Dwight Freeney ($12 million), DeMarcus Ware ($11.29 million), Tamba Hali ($11.5 million) and James Harrison ($8.625 million).
It also allows the Dolphins to not have to use the franchise tag on Wake next year, which will likely carry a number north of $10 million. The players given the franchise tag in 2012 will receive $10.6 million.
Wake's new salary cap figure for 2012 is not yet known, but the Dolphins have enough salary cap space ($6.89 million before the Wake signing) to fit his new contract and the new rookie class under the salary cap.
The Dolphins may have to cut or restructure a player this offseason if they want to give Jake Long a contract extension, but they don't need to make another move to fit Wake under the cap. Wake's contract is most likely back-loaded, with a 2012 salary cap figure around $2-3 million.