The NFL salary cap isn't real but the Miami Dolphins still have to clear more than $51 million

The common belief is that the NFL salary cap is a guideline and nothing more. Yes, teams have to maintain a roster that fits underneath it but they can manipulate it easily.

Feb 10, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins Miami general manager Chris Grier speaks during
Feb 10, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins Miami general manager Chris Grier speaks during / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins need to trim more than $51 million from their current cap before the start of free agency.

March 13th will reset the salary cap for every NFL team including the Miami Dolphins. Teams will need to be under the $242 million cap by 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. While teams like the Commanders and Tiatns sit around $61 million in available space, the Dolphins are at the bottom. Only the Saints need to clear more money.

Getting there doesn't mean the Dolphins have to cut the roster but they will. Remember that "Salary cap isn't real" statement? Yes, teams can restructure contracts, they can release players if they need to, they can extend players that shift and move money around. Converting salary portions to guaranteed money also creates space by spreading the money over a couple of years, or more.

For the Dolphins, there are moves that can be made before March 13th gets here and if the Dolphins wanted to, they could create as much another $100 million in operating space.

The biggest two questions are the futures of Christian Wilkins and Tua Tagovailoa. Rumors continue to spread that Tua and the Dolphins are working on a big contract extension. Wilkins is Miami's top impending free agent.

If we go strictly by the numbers, getting rid of $51 million is quite easy and the Dolphins could make these releases to get that number reduced to around $30 million.

  • Emmanuel Ogbah - $13.7 million.
  • Jeff Wilson - $2.8 million
  • Keion Crossen - $2.9 million
  • Lester Cotton - $1.1 million

If the Dolphins want to restructure deals, Tyreek Hill could save nearly $12.5 million, Bradley Chubb would save $14 million, and a restructure of Xavien Howard, again, could bring another $12 million in cap relief.

While the start of free agency is when teams need to be at the cap, the Dolphins will start making moves soon over the next couple of weeks. Fans should start seeing moves made around the end of February as the team readies for the start of the league new year.