With NFL Free Agency upon us, it's time to look at the Miami Dolphins and their plans. But wait. The Dolphins are roughly 8M over the salary cap prior to the new league year. This includes Jarvis Landry on the books for 15.982M according to Over the Cap The team plans to make some moves. We already know some. Here are a few more moves to look for as we approach the new league year:
What we know: The Dolphins are saying goodbye to Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas. The total combined cap savings will be 12.075M. This will put the Dolphins about 4M in cap space. Nothing to get excited about.
Move(s) to expect: There has been a ton of rumbling regarding Ja'Wuan James. The Dolphins, per a few sources, have stated the Dolphins do not know what they are going to do yet. A rumor floated that the Broncos may be interested in trading for him. The bottom line here, James costs 9.341M this season and can be released to get that money back. IF the Dolphins believe that James will continue to play well and be healthy, they may try to work out an extension. However, they also have been reluctant to pay top dollars to offensive lineman in recent years. A release may be more the likely outcome here.
The bigger question marks are Cameron Wake and Mike Pouncey. Both will free up a ton of cap space (7M for Pouncey, 8.125M for Wake). Both are expected to be back with the team next year at their current salaries. With that being said, many look at what a restructure would look like to lower their cap hits. Pouncey could give the team 4.7M in relief if he were to restructure his deal. Cameron Wake, however, has no benefit to a restructure. The logical thing to do here is to offer him an extension. Giving Wake an extension would free up an additional 5.8M in cap.
Speaking of restructuring, it doesn't appear the Dolphins will be talking to Suh about a restructure as that only burdens the team further in 2019. There have been reports of Suh being released post June 1st, which will give the Dolphins 17M in cap for 2019, but at the same time losing a great player for really nothing of value. Trading Suh still does not give the team any relief of his salary prior to June 1st, so no real benefit here. Where the Dolphins can look at a restructure are these players: Note, Restructure just pushes the money out over the course of their current contract. This is why Suh's number is astronomical after his 2016 restructure. So the Dolphins will be smart about this.
I will first start with Jones. Jones has a cap number of 11.575 this season after getting his extension last year. A restructure is unlikely but will definately be approaced. This will save the team 6.6M. As for the three contracts given last season to Branch, Stills and Alonso, all may be approached. While the Dolphins will still have a hard time ridding of Branch's contract in 2019 even with a restructure, Kiko Alonso will free up space in 2019 if released. But also can help this year with a number of 4.7M. If Branch were to be open to it, that would save the team 3.6M this year.
When it comes to Ryan Tannehill, he has the second highest cap number on the team. A restructure of his deal would save the team 11.1M. This to me still is a catch 22. Tannehill is the named starter for 2018, and no folks, he is not getting traded or released, regardless if the Dolphins draft a QB at 11. Will the team approach him to do this? Time will tell, but the clock is ticking. Tannehill will save the team 8M next year on the cap if he is cut or traded. This really hinges on what happens at QB this offseason.
So when you take a look at the BOLD numbers in this article., IF everything suggested here comes to fruition, the Dolphins will have 50M in salary cap space to use. That is still with the Jarvis Landry contract on the books. Trading him would open up an additional 16M in space which will give the team now 60M to use. Will all these moves happen? It is hard to tell, as they arent giving up much in information right now. So if the Dolphins were to do this move, what free agents will they go after?
We know the glaring holes on the offensive line as well as linebacker, we can throw running back, tight end and receiver as well (assuming Landry is gone). Here are a list of players to keep your eyes on (this list is subject to change as more players get released/cut) Age is in ( )
OL: Nate Solder (29), Luke Joeckel (26), Josh Sitton (31), Greg Robinson (25), Benjamin Ijalana (28), DJ Fluker (26), Josh Kline (28), Andrew Norwell (26), Seantrel Henderson (26)
LB: Tahir Whitehead (27), Nigel Bradham (28), Zach Brown (28), Demario Davis (29), Barkevious Mingo (27), Gerald Hodges (27), Akeem Ayers (28)
RB: Isaih Crowell (25), Terrence West (27), Alfred Morris (29), Damien Williams (25), Dion Lewis (27), Jeremy Hill (25), Carlos Hyde (26)
TE: Jimmy Graham (31), Levine Toilolo (26), Trey Burton (26), Tyler Eifert (27), Luke Wilson (28), Austin Seferian Jenkins (25), Richard Rogers (26)
WR: Terrell Pryor (28), Sammy Watkins (24), Taylor Gabriel (27), Albert Wilson (25), Jordan Matthews (25), Marquise Lee (26), Michael Campanaro (27), Justin Hunter (26), Donte Moncrief (24), John Brown (27)
That is just a general list of names that may or may not be connected to the Dolphins as free agency kicks off. We will bring you all the news on Dolphinstalk.com when any news breaks. Make sure you check out Dolphinstalk.com daily for all your Miami Dolphins news featuring Mike.