ESPN boldly predicts that Dolphins will cut this key player


New York Jets v Miami Dolphins
New York Jets v Miami Dolphins / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The Miami Dolphins currently sit $29 million under the cap, giving them the third-worst salary cap situation, per Over the Cap, as of this writing. That's why ESPN's Aaron Schatz wrote in his bold predictions column that the Dolphins could part ways with Jason Sanders, who has been with the team since 2018.

"A kicker as a bold move? Hear me out. Sanders is one of the top 10 kickers in the league in terms of average salary per year. His 2020 All-Pro season stands out, but he has has hit only 80% of his field goals in the three seasons since. The Dolphins are about $52 million over the cap, and they need cut candidates to whittle that down. That means going past the obvious cuts such as Emmanuel Ogbah and Jerome Baker.

A post-June 1 cut of Sanders would save $3.8 million on the cap with just under $750,000 in dead money. Then the Dolphins can find a kicker near the end of the draft or even on the college free agent market who would command a much smaller contract."

Aaron Schatz

Schatz makes a solid point here. While Sanders has been with the team for six seasons and has been a serviceable kicker during his Dolphins tenure, he's expensive and the 'Fins need to get out of cap hell one way or another. Cutting Sanders and finding a cheaper kicker could be one of many ways to go about doing that.

Could the Dolphins cut Jason Sanders to save money?

Having a reliable kicker is important and that could be a reason why the Dolphins maybe don't take this approach. Sanders is coming off a decent season where he only missed four field goals and one extra point attempt, giving him a field goal percentage of 85.7. It could be a lot worse, that's for sure. If Sanders weren't expensive, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

Let's say the Dolphins do move on from Sanders. Who could they target instead?

Some of the kickers on the free-agent market include Ka'imi Fairbairn, Nick Folk, Wil Lutz, and Greg Zuerlein if the Dolphins wanted to go that route. They could also look to take a page out of the Bengals and 49ers' books and draft a kicker. This is more risky but as it did with Evan McPherson in Cincinnati, it can pay dividends if you hit on that selection.

While paying a kicker a lot of money might seem like a problem, teams with some of the best kickers in the league face the same "problem" but they know when the game is on the line and can be won or lost with a field goal, they're sitting pretty. Do the Dolphins want to take a risk of moving on from a dependable kicker or should they continue to pay him and make cuts elsewhere?