Poor Cameron Wake was probably starting to think he would never get a big contract. Wake signed a 4 year, 2.4 million dollar “rookie” contract before the 2009 season at age 27 and had done nothing but dominate since. In the last 2 seasons as a starter, he’s had 25 sacks, 41 quarterback hits, and 81 quarterback pressures, including 52 pressures last year (3rd in the league behind Chris Long and Julius Peppers).
As a “rookie” in 2009, he only played 167 snaps, but still managed 7 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 20 pressures as arguably the best situational pass rusher in the league. ProFootballFocus has ranked him 4th and 1st in each of the last two years respectively among rush linebackers and ranked him 4th among defensive ends in 2009 despite only playing 167 snaps.
However, because of how late his start in the NFL was (he began his career in the CFL where he won defensive player of the year in 2008) he is now 30 and the Dolphins did not seem too eager to give him the big contract he had earned over the last 3 years. He wouldn’t be any more likely to get it next offseason at age 31 on the open market. However, the Dolphins gave him the deal he earned today, extending him for 49 million over 4 years with 20 million guaranteed.
That’s a lot of money for someone who will be 31-34 over the life of the contract, but Wake has more than earned that money over the last 3 years and they simply couldn’t afford to let their best player hit the open market. Compared to what someone like Mario Williams got (6 years, 96 million, 50 million guaranteed, albeit at age 27), the Dolphins are getting an absolutely bargain with this deal as long as Wake continues to produce to even 75-80% of his peak. And if he doesn’t, they’re only on the hook for 20 million guaranteed.