Miami Dolphins Can Get $30 Mill Under The Cap


The NFL allows teams to have two players designated post-June 1st cuts. Teams will have the players prorated bonus money split over the course of two seasons. Releases made prior to June 1st have the entire bonus accelerated into the current years cap. For the Miami Dolphins, how as of today are projected to be $2 million over the cap, post-June 1st cuts could help them gain some money to spend in free agency.

That does not mean that the Dolphins will make enough to free spend. Still there are some options and I have them listed below. What players should likely be cut and what they would cost pre and post June 1.

Best post June 1st options:

Dannelle Ellerbe – $8,450,000 releasing Ellerbe prior to June 1 without a designation of Post J-1 would cost the Dolphins would save $5.6 million in space but there would be over $4 million in dead money. Post J-1 would only carry a $1.4 dead money hit.

Brian Hartline – $5,950,000 in cap space with a $1.4 million dead money hit. Pre-June 1st would cost the Dolphins $4.2 million in dead money and only save $3.1 in space.

Conclusion: Looking at the names of players that could be cut only Ellerbe and Hartline make the most sense for post J-1 designation as they give the Dolphins not only cap space in the amount of $14,400,000 but they are the two biggest hits if designated pre-J-1.

Best Pre-June 1st cuts

Cortland Finnegan – $5,475,000 in cap space with $1 million in dead money. Finnegan would count the same if he is released pre-J-1. Injury concern is high with Finnegan so releasing him now would save money and allow the team to look at bringing him back later if he doesn’t sign elsewhere.

Randy Starks – $5,000,000 in cap space and $1 million in dead money. Starks’ numbers are the same if he is pre or post J-1 released so there is no reason to use a post designation on him. The savings could be used to retain Jared Odrick who will become a free agent.

Brandon Gibson – $3,260,000 in cap savings with a dead money hit of $1 million even. Gibson counts the same a Post J-1 release. He isn’t earning his money and frankly should no longer count on being a Miami Dolphin. In addition the Dolphins have young up and coming receivers that play as well as Gibson.

Shelley Smith – $2,750,000 is a nice cap saving but would the Dolphins find a cheaper option in free agency? Smith suffered from injury last season but is still a viable option to back-up or step in and compete to start. With another season under his belt he may be better in year two. Still if the team doesn’t feel his worth is there, he will only count $250,000 in dead money.

Nate Garner – $1,650,000 in cap savings and only $166,000 in dead money. Garner couldn’t get healthy this year and when he was he wasn’t active for the games. The Dolphins can no longer continue to look at Garner as a viable option on the line and it’s time to move on which it too bad because I have always like Garner.

Options for June 1st cuts (not designated as post June cuts)

Phillip Wheeler – $3,000,000 in cap savings and only $1 million in dead money. Prior to June 1st Wheeler will cost the team $4.2 million in dead space and save only $200,000. It’s the reason why I don’t see a move on Wheeler until after June 1st.

Mike Wallace – A lot has been made about Wallace’s future but unless Miami wants to eat a large chunk of salary Wallace isn’t going anywhere. If he is traded he will save the Dolphins $5.5 million in cap space but eat $6.6 million in dead money. If he is cut post-June 1st he will save $6.9 million in space but cost $5.2 in dead money. A pre-June 1st release would cost the team $9.6 million in dead money while only saving $2.5.

Total possible (realistic) savings:

If the Dolphins release Ellerbe and Hartline as post-June 1st designated cuts and then release Finnegan, Starks, Gibson, Smith, and Garner the team will have $32,535,000 to spend in free agency not subtracting the estimated $2 million in cap overage to start. The Dolphins would get an additional $3,000,000 on June 1st if they release Phillip Wheeler.

There are still other options in addition to the cuts suggested above. The Dolphins could opt to restructure some deals that could also free up money as well. Here is a quick look at some players who may be asked to restructure. Please note that while many players scoff at the notion to restructure, guaranteeing more of their salary gives players up front or guaranteed money in their pocket and thus help to give more cap space. This should not be considered the same as asking players to take a pay cut as it spreads guaranteed money over the contract.

Reshad Jones – current cap number: $7.76 million

Brent Grimes – current cap number $10 million

Cameron Wake – current cap number $9.7 million

Earl Mitchell – current cap number $4.5 million was used to compile these numbers.