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Dolphins sign RT Austin Jackson to three-year, $36 million extension

Austin Jackson's bounce-back 2023 season has landed him a new deal in Miami.

The Dolphins are signing Jackson to a three-year, $36 million extension, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday. The contract includes a maximum value of $39 million, including $20.7 million in guaranteed money, per Rapoport.

Miami later confirmed it had signed Jackson to an extension through the 2026 season.

The deal is a good one for both sides. Jackson is in the midst of a career year while serving as a non-traditional blindside blocker on the right side of the line for the left-handed Tua Tagovailoa, earning the best overall grade of his career (67.3), per Pro Football Focus, including a pass-blocking grade that cracked 70. He's helped keep Tagovailoa -- who has a documented history of injury issues -- upright throughout the season, helping the Dolphins sprint to a 9-3 record and a commanding three-game lead in the AFC East with five left to play.

He's also not being paid like an elite tackle. Jackson's $12 million per year average places him 28th among all tackles, and 11th among all right tackles, sandwiched between Cleveland's Jack Conklin ($15 million per year) and Atlanta's Kaleb McGary ($11.5 million per year), according to Over The Cap.

Still, it's a raise that nearly quadrupled Jackson's current per-year rate of $3.41 million. And it's a deal that both secures his future in Miami, and crosses him off the Dolphins' roster-management checklist prior to 2024.

Jackson is getting a deserved raise in large part because he's proven the ankle injury that limited him to less than 100 snaps in 2022 would not be a problem in 2023. In fact, he's come back stronger than ever, and because availability is indeed a sought-after ability, he's earned his bump in pay.

Jackson is part of an offensive line that has allowed Tagovailoa to be sacked just 17 times this season. He's been responsible for just two of those sacks, a notable achievement as the tackle tasked with keeping rushers from closing in from behind Tagovailoa.

Because he's been kept upright and healthy, Tagovailoa is enjoying a career year that has seen him complete a single-season best 70.1 percent of his passes for 3,457 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. If he finishes 2023 healthy, he's guaranteed to garner some Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player votes as the conductor of an offense that leads the NFL in total yards per game (by a margin of nearly 28 more yards per game than the next closest team, Detroit) and passing yards per game, and stands second in rushing yards per game and points scored per contest.

Jackson and the other four starting linemen in Miami have played an integral role in such a stellar season. Miami is rewarding him accordingly, locking up a key protector before he could sniff free agency in March.

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