The Miami Dolphins signed free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the richest non-quarterback contract in league history this offseason, giving the All-Pro a 6-year, $114 million deal. Despite every analyst acknowledging before free agency started that Suh would get a record breaking deal, the Dolphins were loudly criticized for giving Suh that much money. Clearly the team would quickly become salary cap strapped and they would be in a fire-sale in the next year or two.
Everyone forgot one thing. Dawn Aponte is a salary cap wizard.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Dave Hyde wrote this morning that there is a clause in Suh's contract that allows Miami to spread Suh's base salary for any year over a five year span. In other words, in 2016, when Suh's salary jumps to $23.5 million, the Dolphins can exercise the option and spread it over five years, bringing his base salary to $4.7 million for 2016 (plus his $5.1 million signing bonus).
This of course would start moving the money toward the back-end of the contract, which, at some point, the team will have to find away to either get out of paying, or restructure to make sure they never end up with one giant year that really does hamper them. The Dolphins could be looking at future years and projecting the salary cap increases to make sure Suh's contract gets to their bigger numbers with a bigger salary cap.
Make sure you check out Hyde's full article for more on Suh's contract and things like another way Ryan Tannehill has reached Dan Marino marks for the franchise.
And, remember, Dawn Aponte is a wizard.