Miami Dolphins will face tough cuts in the next week

A look through a fan at Hard Rock Stadium as the field crew preps for a Sunday game - image by Brian Miller
A look through a fan at Hard Rock Stadium as the field crew preps for a Sunday game - image by Brian Miller /

The Miami Dolphins will be making a lot of changes to their roster in the next week. There is no way around it, Miami is $19 million over the projected $177 million cap and that means cuts are coming.

There are some, o.k. one, in the South Florida mainstream media who will tell you that the cap is in fact fiction. What he really is saying is that teams can manipulate the contract numbers to work under the cap but despite the language, the cap is a real thing and the Dolphins need to be under it when the league new year kicks off on March 14th.

With $16 million tied up in Jarvis Landry, more on that shortly, the Dolphins will need to purge the roster, not just to get below the cap but to have money and cap space to work with. What we already know to be certain releases are Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas.

Timmons was signed last year to a two-year free agent deal but his play and his off-field issues curtailed any chance at a second season. For Thomas it’s all about the sprice tag weighed against his very inconsistent performance.

Releasing Timmons will save the Dolphins $5.475 million in cap space but they will carry $2.7 million in dead money on a poorly written contract. Thomas will save the Dolphins $6.6 milliion with no dead cap space. The two combined put the Dolphins somewhere in the $12 million range of cap relief with another $7 million still needing to be cleared.

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This is where things get not only interesting but could be surprising as well. Here is what could happen in the next week and maybe two weeks.

Jarvis Landry 

Landry has told the team that he will sign the Franchise Tag but that does not mean that Miami will not rescind it before he signs it. Landry’s trade value is diminishing quickly and teams are turned off by his salary demands. Making matters worse is several free agent wide-receivers that will hit the market on the 14th.

Allen Robinson is one of those guys and there are rumors floating that his salary will fall in the $12 million range. In other words with more receivers on the market, the less interest Landry will have from those teams. If the Dolphins rescind or re-sign Landry that $16 million will either change or will go away. If he signs the tag, Miami will be on the hook for the full $16 unless they can trade him or re-sign him to a long term deal.

Ja’Wuan James

James is due to make just over $9 million in 2018 and the Dolphins could at any moment opt to remove the 5th year option. James is interesting because he is very good in pass protection and while inconsistent in run blocking is getting better. Miami may opt to sign him to an extension which would reduce his salary cap figure but for a team that is very high on tackle/guard Jesse Davis, James could be a free agent in a week. If he is, the Dolphins will get back the full $9.2 million and change and at least for the time being would be under the cap.

Mike Pouncey 

It’s hard to imagine both Pouncey and James back. The Dolphins could approach Pouncey about taking a pay cut and given his injury history he won’t likely find a lot of suitors willing to pay a lot. Pouncey completed only his 2nd full NFL season since his rookie year and while it was great having him on the field the reality was that he didn’t play typical Mike Pouncey football. He was slower and lacked the same push-off the ball he had before his hip surgery.

Releasing Pouncey would save $7 million against the cap and $2 million in dead money but it would also leave a pretty big hole on an offensive line that simply isn’t that good.

Cameron Wake

No one wants to talk about it but Wake is getting into the really late years of his career. He is scheduled to make $8.6 million in 2018 and releasing or trading him would save the Dolphins all but $500,000 in cap relief.

While there has been a lot of speculation surrounding Wake, especially after the Robert Quinn trade, nothing has come out of Miami supporting any of those rumors.

The rest you shouldn’t worry about

While there has been a lot of wide-spread talk of Ndamukong Suh or Ryan Tannehill being released or traded, it isn’t happening. Not this year anyways. Next season both contracts flip into Miami’s favor. That is if saving $15 million and taking a $13 million cap hit as a win.

Tannehill is the more likely to go in 2019 but that has a lot to do with what Miami drafts this year.

Reshad Jones and several other players could restructure but the Dolphins are going to have to play it close to the hip so as not make the future worse than what they would or will lose today.