David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins re-signed Brian Hartline and Matt Moore this week. Hearing the 5-year, $30.8 million deal for Hartline and 2-year, $8 million contract for Moore made fans doubt the team would be able to pursue the weapons they want in free agency this year. Today, the salary cap number show the Dolphins are fine.
A week ago, that seemed to be the sentiment among a section of the Dolphins' fan base. News had come out that Miami had signed wide receiver Hartline to a 5-year, $30.8 million contract, or a little over $6 million per season. Just after that, the news broke that the team had also signed backup quarterback Moore to a 2-year, $8 million contract. The team, which was among the league leaders in salary cap space this year, suddenly seemed to be cutting through that money way faster than anyone expected.
Of course, no one knew the actual impact of the deals. The NFL's salary cap does not use average salary to calculate the amount of money a team has to spend. It uses the player's base salary for each year, plus any bonuses owed the player divided by the years remaining on the contract. Now, we have those numbers.
Hartline's "$6 million per season" salary will cost the Dolphins a grand total of $2.115 million against the cap this year, as reported by the Palm Beach Posts' Ben Volin. It makes a significant jump in 2014, at $6.21 million, followed by $7.35 million in 2015 and $7.55 million in 2016 and 2017. Of course, the Dolphins and Hartline can restructure that deal at any time, bringing his salary cap number down by transitioning money into bonuses and lengthening the deal.
With a $2.115 million salary cap number this year, Hartline is currently the 14th most expensive player on the Miami roster, and the second wide receiver (Davone Bess, $3.4 million).
Moore, meanwhile, will cost the Dolphins just $2.5 million against the cap in 2013. His two year deal escalates to $5.5 million in 2014, but no one realistically expects him to get that money. The deal will either be reworked after the season, or Moore will be released (costing the team $1.5 million in "dead money," or money still owed to Moore from any guarantees or bonuses that had not been paid - against the salary cap, he probably already physically received the money - before his release).
Most importantly, Moore's cap number keeps him below second year, and starting, quarterback Ryan Tannehill's $2.9 million number.
All told, the Dolphins' use of $38.8 million to two players will only cost the team $4.6 million against the cap this year. Add in the $8.45 million for franchise tagging defensive tackle Randy Starks, and the team should be sitting at around $32 million remaining to pursue free agents and sign draft picks this offseason.