So far this offseason, I have stayed away from the projection of the upcoming salary cap, and how much space the Miami Dolphins might have, simply because there are too many unknowns. I have seen projections of the flat cap, meaning the $120 million cap from last year will remain at $120 million for this year. I've seen projections putting it in the $126-128 million range. It's a very fluid environment, until the NFL announces exactly what it will be.
But, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly hass been crunching the salary cap numbers for the last week, projecting a $122 million salary cap. With that number in mind, the Dolphins are sitting right in the middle of the pack, in terms of money to spend.
The Dolphins, from Kelly's calculations, have a $117,416,173 cap number going into the 2012 season. However, the NFL allows team owners to request to exceed the cap by whatever amount they were under the cap the previous season, essentially using the surplus money from last year; Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has, reportedly, already received permission to use last year's surplus. Miami was $9,057,394 under the cap last year, meaning they can add that onto this year's cap.
So, with just that amount, the Dolphins, with a $122 million cap, would really have a $131 million limit. A team can also borrow $3 million against future salary caps, if they chose, meaning the Dolphins could go as high as $134 million, although that is not likely.
When you add it all up, the Dolphins have a projected $13,641,221 for this offseason. If you take out the estimated $5 million it will cost to sign the rookies from this April's draft class, Miami has about $7 million for free agency.
Of course, between now and the start of free agency, Miami could restructure contracts to reduce salary cap numbers (such as Jake Long's $12 million), or could release players.
Click here to see a full list of all 32 NFL team's salary cap situtation, according to Kelly. And, try to figure out how the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to get under the cap, from more than $27 million over the limit.