The Miami Dolphins went spend-crazy this offseason, hoping to put their team in a position to contend for years to come.
But by doing so, could they have shot themselves in the foot for not just the near future, but even for as soon as 2014?
Not only did the Dolphins spend big dollars on various players, doing it early in free agency and seldom bidding, therefore paying well above market value, but they signed those players to back-loaded deals. What I mean by that is they structured the contracts in a way to defer the majority of the cap hit to later years.
The benefit to that, of course, is that Miami can use it's reported $46 million in cap space in 2013 to sign nearly as many players as it wants, with minimal first-year cap consequences.
The drawback is that you're kicking the can down the road, and you actually still have to pay those players.
When the Dolphins signed Mike Wallace, they gave him a first-year base salary of $1 million, and a signing bonus of $2.2 million, bringing his 2013 cap hit to $3.2 million. Not too bad for a top receiver, and leaves plenty of space for other signings this season. But when 2014 rolls around, his base salary shoots up to $15 million with the same bonus, bringing his cap figure to a whopping $17.2 million. Or about 14% of what this year's salary cap was. On one player.
To compound the problem, the Dolphins did that for nearly all of their signed free agents.
Here's how it breaks down:
All of the impending free agents that Miami signed to multi-year deals -- Brian Hartline, Matt Moore, Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, Brandon Gibson and Nate Garner -- carry a $15.7 million cap hit for this season.
That same group of players will take up $48.3 million in cap space in 2014. And less Matt Moore, $39.7 million in 2015. Presuming the salary cap stays flat over those years, that will take up 39.3% and 32.3% of the total cap in those seasons, respectively.
Binging in one offseason and setting up a potential cash crunch in the next two is not an ideal way to use money when you have it. The Dolphins already have (approximately) $89.3 million in cap commitments without this year's and next year's draft picks added in*.
And that's just on 27 players. Not good.
*(This year's 11 picks should take $7.0 million in cap space this year and $8.7 million next year, based on corresponding picks in the 2012 rookie wage scale.)