Cap space could hinder the Miami Dolphins off season plans
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins are not going to be in a cap restrictive state once free agency rolls around but they will have to be frugal with their spending. Will the cap hinder the Dolphins’ plans? Possibly but it really depends on what happens with the final cap figure.
We know that the NFL cap number will not go up this year. Due to COVID restrictions last season, part of the agreement with the NFLPA was no hike in cap space for this year and we could see a one-year reduction. We simply don’t know what that will be at this point.
On Spotrac.com, they are assuming a cap figure of $185 million per team so we will work off that figure. They have the Dolphins listed as 8th in cap space with around $35.6 million in space. The Dolphins will need anywhere between $10 and $14 million for their rookie class but that too would change if Miami traded down from the third overall spot.
If the Dolphins need, say $12 million for their rookies, the available cap space will reduce to around $23 million. That would be Miami’s workable cap space for free agency and anything they would need through trainging camp and the start of the season.
Miami’s biggest problem to create space is that they don’t have many players they can get rid of to reduce the number. This year the Dolphins have less than $500K in dead money according to Spotrac. That is considerably less than the last two years.
Miami’s highest paid player is Byron Jones. He will count $16 million against the cap. Kyle Van Noy, Xavien Howard, DeVante Parker, and Ereck Flowers make up the top five. Of those five players, Van Noy and Howard releases would give Miami just over $9 million per player but we know that’s not going to happen. Both would carry over $4 million in dead money.
Emmanuel Ogbah being released would save the Dolphins $7.5 million cap space but while they have not guarantees to Ogbah, they should look to redo his contract, convert some of his base to a guarantee and save money that way. His cap number is $7.5 million.
Bobby McCain is a solid leader in the secondary but he would add almost $6 million to the cap with only a $1.4 dead hit. His 2021 cap number is just over $7 million.
Here is a quick look at some of the other players that could save Miami money.
Eric Rowe – $6 million cap – $5 million savings – $1 million dead money
Albert Wilson – $5.1 million cap – $2.8 million savings – $2.3 million dead money
Jakeem Grant – $4.6 million cap – $2.8 million savings – $1.8 million dead money
Jesse Davis – $4.5 million cap – $2.8 million savings – $2 million dead money
Allen Hurns – $28 million cap – $766K savings – $2.11 million dead money
Clayton Fejedelem – $2.4 million cap – $2.4 million savings – $0 dead money
Durham Smythe – $2.4 million – $2.4 million – $0 dead money
Mike Gesicki – $2.1 million – $1.3 million – $722k dead
Jerome Baker – $2.6 million – $2.3 million – $243 dead money
In the case of Wilson and Hurns, money paid to them for the opt-out clause last year will be deducted from their totals this year. Of the two, Wilson makes more sense to release as he has less dead money and a minimal amount of savings.
Jakeem Grant makes a lot of sense to release. He has been largely inconsistent as a receiver and $4.6 million is a lot to pay for a guy who can’t win at the line of scrimmage. Depending on what the Dolphins do on the Oline, Jesse Davis may be on the block. He has been average and while he can play multiple rolls on offense, if the Dolphins decide to bulk up through the draft or free agency, he may find himself on the cut list. Personally, I think he sticks around another season.
I am of the opinion that Clayton Fejedelem will be released before March 17th’s league new year start. He missed quite a bit of time last year, isn’t really much of a nickel corner and saves $2.4 million with no dead money. He excels on special teams though, when healthy.
I don’t see the Dolphins releasing Jerome Baker but I do see the possibility of extending him. While that is possible, if Miami is looking to save money, a new deal would likely cost more this year than the $2.6 million it does now.
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This finally brings us to the tight ends. Mike Gesicki will be a free agent after this season. The Dolphins won’t release him because he has a lot of value but would they trade him if they got a decent offer? That will depend on wether or not they get an offer they like and whether they view him as their starting TE for the future. If that is the case, Gesicki will get a new contract at some point this year.
Durham Smythe is making more money this year than Gesicki but he also could be on the cutting block. Saving $2.4 million by releasing him, the Dolphins could probably draft a suitable replacement if the so choose.
Regardless, the Dolphins must be careful with their free agency plans this year. The free spending they did last year with big contracts to Byron Jones and Ereck Flowers are not going to happen this off season. They need to be smart and concentrate more on filling holes and then look to the draft for potential starting competition.