Miami Dolphins cap situation will change


The Miami Dolphins are entering the off-season over the league salary cap. Miami is reported to be $1.5 million over which means they have between now and the league new year to figure it out.

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While it may look really bad on the surface, the Dolphins really are not too concerned over the number. A few snips here and there and the Dolphins will be in good position heading into free agency. They will need to keep some money in reserve for their draft pool but again, Miami could still be active this March.

With the salary cap numbers curently in the red, the first savings will come from releasing Quinton Coples who is counting 7.5 million against the cap. Coples could return at a reduced salary but releasing him will nonetheless get the Dolphins under the cap and with that savings would have enough to handle their draft class.

That does not mean that the Dolphins will have room to spend in free agency. It’s going to be little tight and the Dolphins need to make certain they don’t overspend like the previous three seasons. The Dolphins will have a decision to make with Ndamukong Suh who is carrying a $28.8 million cap hit. Suh’s contract allows the Dolphins to convert portions of his 2016 base salary into signing bonus. This would result in a cap saving this year of $18.8 million but would increase Suh’s cap numbers in the next four years but almot $4.5 million.

Miami’s may want to simply take the cap hit this year and be done with it. Although future years will still be in the low $20 million range.

To find spending money the Dolphins are going to need to clear space and tight-end Jordan Cameron is a likely starting point. Cameron is due $9.5 million in 2016 and releasing him would save the club $7.5 million space. With the release of Coples, Miami is now around $13.8 million below the cap without touching Suh’s contract. Releasing Greg Jennings will save an additional $4 million in space as well pushing that total almost $18 million.

Other players could add to that number if only a little at a time. Jason Fox should not be back and his release adds another $1.8 million. Earl Mitchell’s poor play could send the Dolphins another $2.5 million in cap space with his release. If you really want to nickel and dime it, Dallas Thomas would save around $600,000.00 and Jamar Taylor would save $900K. Combine that together with Fox and Mitchell and you are now looking at close to $23.5 without having restructured any contracts.

It’s hard to figure out what players would eventually count against the cap if we look at possible restructured deals. Mike Pouncey at over $10 million is an option as is Branden Albert who also will be over $10 million. Both player could take reduced base salaries have portions converted to signing bonuses giving the Dolphins a few more million dollars to spend. Then there are players like Koa Misi who could save the team over $4 million if released with negligible dead money.

The hardest decisions will come with Cameron Wake and Brent Grimes who both are scheduled to cost more than $9 million in cap space apiece. Releasing Grimes as a post-June 1st cut would have the team $8 million in cap space withonly $1.5 in dead money. Prior to J-1 he would eat $3 million in dead money and only save the club around $6 million. The Dolphins could reach out to him about a reduced contract.

When it comes to Cam Wake, it’s time to get real and talk about his contract. Wake is over 30 and starting to wear down and pretty soon, if not by the end of 2016, Wake will become more or less a 3rd down specialist and $9 million is a lot spend on a player like that. Miami needs to discuss a contract reduction with Wake not only to save cap money but because Wake isn’t playing at that same level and then you add to it the injury and it becomes a tough decision for the team.

Whatever the Dolphins decide to do in the next three weeks will force the team to replace the players they lose or eat the salary in future seasons. Either way the Dolphins are not in terrible shape, they just are not yet in good shape. They need to make smart decisions this year.