The Miami Dolphins will enter the 2016 league new year over the projected $154 million salary cap next season.
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The NFL announced earlier this week that the salary cap will move closer towards $154 million next season but the Dolphins are around $8 million over the cap already. What’s confusing is that the Dolphins have $10 million in carryover from this season that was unused. So when the league new year rolls around, Miami can carry that $10 mill over and then be $2 mill under the cap. Confused yet?
Miami will have to make a lot of decisions this off-season. Who makes those decisions won’t be known until they make a decision the head coach and any changes that may bring to the front office. They have options though. And those options could swing the Dolphins from being over the cap to well under it.
The following numbers are from the website Overthecap.com. Ndamukong Suh leads the Dolphins salary cap with over $28.6 million. Ryan Tannehill comes in 2nd with $11.6 million against the cap. While the Dolphins are unlikely to talk with Tannehill about adjusting some numbers, it’s very likely that Suh will have that talk and move some of his money around in the form of more guarantees.
The real money savings however will come at the top of the roster in terms of players who contribute. Those players will make this off-season very difficult. Most of these players will likely be asked to restructure.
Cameron Wake who will come off an Achilles’ injury that ended his season and is now safely on the wrong side of 30 is scheduled to count $9.8 million against the cap. Wake is a great Dolphins defender but Miami needs to start thinking about replacing him.
Branden Albert has played very good after injuries plagued his first season with the Dolphins and the first four weeks of this season were shelved due to injury. He will count just over $10 million on the cap next season.
Mike Pouncey signed a new deal last off-season and will count just over $10 million as well. That’s over $20 million for two players on one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
Where savings could come from however are from Jordan Cameron who has not been used at all this year the way many anticipated. Releasing Cameron will save $7.5 million. Brent Grimes is starting to show signs of wear and age as he begins to slow down. He will count $9.5 million on the cap next year and Miami will likely ask him to restructure. The question is will his wife let him.
About the only one playing up to his salary cap number is Reshad Jones who at $8 million plus change could be considered a bargain.
The Dolphins have around 10 to 13 expected free agents next season but none of them are really players that are expecting to command a lot of money versus retaining them. Olivier Vernon will likely be the exception. Lamar Miller will likely sign for a reasonable contract given the deals across the NFL at the position over the last few years.
All in all Miami has opportunity to create a lot of cap space next season but at some point those restructured contracts will come back to hurt the team in some form. Releasing players and eating the dead money will help but Miami would still need to replace them.
It’s not going to be an easy task for whomever will hold the responsibility.