In 2023, the Miami Dolphins will have 26 impending free agents as the off-season approaches but there are players under contract that won’t be back.
Miami will have to decide which veteran players currently under contract will continue after the season. Some of that money will be used to keep as many of the 26 impending free agents as they can or at least want to.
This will be an interesting off-season. Of those 26 players, three players are restricted free agents. FB John Lovett, safety Elijah Campbell, and running back Salvon Ahmed. The rest are all unrestricted and that is a lot of players that will potentially hit free agency.
Many of these players are important and contributing members of the team. Thomas Morstead, Andrew Van Ginkel, Brandon Shell, Trent Sherfield, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Elandon Roberts, Nik Needham, Melvin Ingram, and of course, Mike Gesicki.
But what about the rest of the roster? The Dolphins will enter the off-season with only 36 players under contract. Chris Grier has a lot of work to do and he would be smart to get started as early as possible. Restructuring contracts will work in some cases and new deals will in others but some players, inevitably will be released. Here are some of those players that might not be back.
There are literally only a handful of players that could be released and save the Dolphins money without carrying a large amount of dead cap space.
Cethan Carter is one of those players. He would save Miami $2.5 million without dead money. Hardly enough cash to re-sign some of the impending free agents the team will have. He is joined by Connor Williams who would save the team $5 million against $3.3 million in dead space. Of course, why would you want to get rid of Williams?
Others on this list include Keion Crossen ($3.1 million), Brandon Jones, $1.2 million against $276K dead money.
The list pretty much ends there. Most of the Dolphins under contract will carry big hits in dead money with only moderate savings. For example, Miami could release Byron Jones, something many think is a possibility. Jones would save the Dolphins $4 million and change but according to OvertheCap.com, he would cost Miami $14 million in dead money. That number flips if he is designated as a post-June 1st cut but Miami would not be able to use that money until after June 1st.
Another player that has found his name bouncing around the “get rid of his circuit” is kicker Jason Sanders. Sanders is not playing well this year for the 2nd season in a row. The Dolphins could bring in competition for him next off-season and if he loses that competition the Dolphins would carry $3.6 million in dead money. Cap savings? Only $95,000.
The spending that Chris Grier has done over the last couple of years is coming into play in 2023. Even if the Dolphins wanted to keep a guy like Mike Gesicki, it may not be that easy, if not near impossible.
Even Noah Igbinoghene isn’t a clean cut. He too would carry over $3 million in dead money with only a $536K savings.
Where Grier finds money to spend will likely come in the form of contract restructures and extension. This will free up money sooner. Converting non-guaranteed money into signing bonuses and guaranteed money will also help create space.
Jerome Baker will enter his final season and could be possibility. He has no guaranteed money after this year. The same can be said about Byron Jones should he stick around and there are rumors he wants a new deal.
Christian Wilkins will play on the 5th year option and that comes with a $10 million price tag. A new contract could reduce that considerably. In fact, many players will likely be approached about this very thing and it might be the only way the Dolphins create enough room to bring back some of those free agents.