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Dolphins salary cap as of June 22; How would Evan Mathis fit into cap?

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The Miami Dolphins have more salary cap space than people may realize. They could easily fit Evan Mathis onto the roster.

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Trying to figure out an NFL franchise's salary cap situation is like trying to invent differential calculus without ever having observed any sort of rate change. Players are being signed and released, bonuses are being earned or forfeited, and the Top 51 rule keeps the salary cap line shifting for each team. It is a fun exercise.

Before we discuss free agent guard Evan Mathis, and how he could fit into the salary cap for the Miami Dolphins, we will break down what the Dolphins have in salary cap space as of today.

(All salary cap numbers via OverTheCap.com)

NFL Salary Cap 2015

$143,280,000

Dolphins Rollover from 2014

$7,770,411

Dolphins Salary Cap 2015

NFL Salary Cap + Rollover
$151,050,411

Dolphins Top 51

Under the NFL offseason/preseason rules, only the Top 51 salaries for each team counts against the salary cap.

Player 2015 Salary Cap Number
Branden Albert $10,725,000
Cameron Wake $10,450,000
Brent Grimes $10,000,000
Reshad Jones $7,712,942
Mike Pouncey $7,000,000
Ndamukong Suh $6,100,000
Ryan Tannehill $4,873,364
Jordan Cameron $4,562,500
Earl Mitchell $4,500,000
Koa Misi $4,438,000
Louis Delmas $3,359,375
Matt Moore $2,600,000
Brandon Fields $2,520,000
Greg Jennings $2,500,000
Derrick Shelby $2,356,000
Kelvin Sheppard $2,000,000
Brice McCain $2,000,000
DeVante Parker $1,977,553
Ja'Wuan James $1,915,545
Olivier Vernon $1,701,520
Lamar Miller $1,663,500
John Denney $1,180,000
J.D. Walton $1,025,000
Jamar Taylor $988,950
Jason Fox $957,500
Jordan Phillips $793,256
Jarvis Landry $789,752
Dallas Thomas $761,594
Billy Turner $723,000
Will Davis $722,800
Jelani Jenkins $703,172
Dion Sims $701,888
LaMichael James $680,000
Rishard Matthews $673,403
CJ Mosley $665,000
Zack Bowman $665,000
Jeff Linkenbach $635,000
Mike Gillislee $625,700
Caleb Sturgis $621,140
Walt Aikens $613,977
Jordan Kovacs $605,000
Josh Freeman $605,000
Don Jones $585,000
McLeod Bethel-Thompson $585,000
Laron Byrd $585,000
Kenny Stills $585,000
Michael Preston $585,000
Michael Thomas $585,000
Spencer Paysinger $585,000
Jacques McClendon $585,000
Jamil Douglas $564,641

Dolphins Top 51 Total:
$115,936,072

Dead Money

When a team releases a player who either has guaranteed money still owed to him, or has a portion of the player's signing bonus, which is prorated over the life of a contract (up to five years), not yet accounted for in a salary cap number, that money is accounted for against the team's salary cap, and termed "dead money." Miami currently has 27 players who are accounting for dead money in 2015:

Player 2015 Dead Money
Mike Wallace $6,600,000
Dannell Ellerbe $6,400,000
Brian Hartline $4,200,000
Philip Wheeler $1,400,000
Randy Starks $1,000,000
Brandon Gibson $1,000,000
Cortland Finnegan $1,000,000
Shelley Smith $250,000
Nate Garner $166,668
Michael Egnew $147,239
Matt Hazel $79,350
Don Jones $22,948
Brock Jensen $7,334
Davonte Wallace $6,667
Derrell Johnson $6,000
Tyler Larsen $4,667
Marcus Thompson $3,334
Tevin Mims $3,334
Steven Clarke $1,667
Demetrius Wright $1,334
Rantavious Wooten $1,334
Tariq Edwards $1,334
Andrew Wilson $1,334
Evan Finkenberg $667
Garrison Smith $667
Kamal Johnson $666
Harold Hoskins $334

Dolphins 2015 Dead Money total
$22,306,878

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap Number*:

Top 51 Salary + Dead Money
$138,242,950

*Note: There is a salary for which this number does not yet account. Defensive end Dion Jordan was suspended for the season with a salary cap number of $4,682,276. That whole number will not be counted against the Dolphins' salary cap this season, but it is not clear exactly how the league will apply Jordan's salary. We will make a correction later in this calculation to align with the NFL Players Association tracking of the Dolphins' salary cap space.

Dolphins 2015 Salary Cap Space as of June 22, 2015:

Dolphins Salary Cap - Dolphins Salary Cap Number*
$12,807,461

NFLPA Tracked Salary Cap Space for Miami:
$11,674,833

Dion Jordan Correction:
Dolphins Salary Cap Space - NFLPA Tracked Space
$1,132,628

We will use the NFLPA tracked number as the correct status for the Dolphins' salary cap, but you can at least see where that number comes from for the most part.

According to the NFLPA's numbers, Miami has the 11th most salary cap space in the league.

Dolphins remaining salaries:

Every team is authorized 90 players under contract during the offseason and through the first part of the preseason. While only the Top 51 salaries are calculated into the salary cap, we do have the number for the remaining 39 players on the Dolphins' roster. (Note: the NFLPA website tracks Miami as having 91 contracts, which is 90 active contracts, plus Jordan.)

Player 2015 Salary Cap Number
Jordan Tripp $550,700
A.J. Francis $530,000
Terrence Fede $523,988
Damien Williams $511,166
Anthony Johnson $510,666
Sam Brenner $510,000
Donald Hawkins $510,000
Jake Stoneburner $510,000
Tommy Streeter $510,000
Chris McCain $510,000
Deandre Coleman $510,000
Gerell Robinson $510,000
Sammy Seamster $510,000
Bobby McCain $492,072
Jay Ajayi $490,203
Cedric Thompson $490,132
Tony Lippett $488,691
Arthur Lynch $482,825
Mike Hull $439,166
Aundrey Walker $438,666
Zach Vigil $438,333
Jeff Luc $437,166
Christion Jones $437,166
Ellis McCarthy $436,666
Ray Drew $436,666
Nigel King $436,000
Mickey Baucus $435,666
Damarr Aultman $435,500
Matt Darr $435,333
Neville Hewitt $435,333
Michael Liedtke $435,333
Emmanuel Dieke $435,000
Shamiel Gary $435,000
Matt Hazel $435,000
Tyler McDonald $435,000
Dionte Savage $435,000
Tim Semisch $435,000
Kendall Montgomery $435,000
Andrew Franks $435,000

Evan Mathis

The Dolphins are one of ten teams reportedly chasing Evan Mathis this offseason. The two-time Pro Bowl guard was released by the Philadelphia Eagles last week due to a contract disagreement. Mathis is among the top left guards in the league, and was expecting the Eagles to pay him as such. Mathis was scheduled to account for $6.5 million against the salary cap ($5.5 million in base salary) for the Eagles this season, then $7 million ($6 million base salary) in 2016.

The top paid left guards in the league are making in excess of $7 million per year, with the Arizona Cardinals paying Mike Iupati $8 million per year and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers paying Logan Mankins $8.5 million per season.

Assuming the Dolphins will look to keep $5 million for use during the season in case of injuries, that leaves Miami about $6.7 million to spend. They could offer that money to Mathis, or they could get creative with a multiple year offer that will give Mathis a large signing bonus this year, with a small base salary, that keeps his salary cap number low for the year. The only issue there is, Miami has the most money committed to the 2016 season already, with projections having them around $5 million over the salary cap. While that number is not a guarantee, it does mean the team has to be careful about mortgaging next season for a player this year.

Miami could also look to pass on Mathis, trusting the trio of Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, and Jamil Douglas to be able to man the top two guard positions, then use the money they do not spend on Mathis as roll over for next year. Whatever the case, the money is available if Miami wants to use it.