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Dolphins salary cap 2017: Projecting Miami cap space next season

The Miami Dolphins are probably in a better salary cap situation than you realize.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 regular season is three weeks from being complete, but the league is already starting to think about the 2017 season. According to USA Today reporter and Sirius XM NFL Radio host Tom Pelissero, teams were told on Tuesday that the 2017 salary cap is projected to be between $166 million and $170 million. That is an increase between $11- and $15-million over this year.

And, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport points out, the final salary cap each season typically ends up being higher than the initial projection.

The salary cap talk brings us back to the Miami Dolphins, and how they will look heading into the 2017 free agency period. It is probably better than you realize.

2017 Dolphins Contract Commitments

# Player Cap Number
# Player Cap Number
1 Ryan Tannehill $20,300,000
2 Ndamukong Suh $19,100,000
3 Branden Albert $10,600,000
4 Mario Williams $10,500,000
5 Mike Pouncey $8,975,000
6 Byron Maxwell $8,500,000
7 Reshad Jones $8,037,938
8 Cameron Wake $7,000,000
9 Isa Abdul-Quddus $5,083,333
10 Koa Misi $4,778,000
11 Earl Mitchell $4,500,000
12 Dion Jordan $3,225,313
13 DeVante Parker $2,966,329
14 Laremy Tunsil $2,831,284
15 Ja’Wuan James $2,681,763
16 Matt Moore $2,150,000
17 Xavien Howard $1,392,736
18 Kraig Urbik $1,375,000
19 Jordan Phillips $1,189,884
20 Jarvis Landry $1,105,652
21 Kenyan Drake $800,315
22 Walt Aikens $793,977
23 Leonte Carroo $735,097
24 Terrence Fede $703,988
25 Bobby McCain $672,072
26 Jay Ajayi $670,203
27 Tony Lippett $668,691
28 Zach Vigil $618,334
29 Matt Darr $615,334
30 Neville Hewitt $615,334
31 Andrew Franks $615,000
32 Jakeem Grant $575,095
33 Jordan Lucas $569,991
34 Jake Brendel $540,000
35 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu $465,000
Salary data via and

2017 Dolphins Salary Cap Projection and Space

2017 Salary Cap Projection
2017 Salary Cap Projection
2016 Remaining Cap Space
Dolphins 2017 Projected Cap
(2017 Salary Cap + 2016 Space)
2017 Contract Obligations
(Preseason Top 51)
(Dolphins have 35 contracts)
2017 Dead Money
Jamil Douglas $259,282
Billy Turner $174,250
Brandon Doughty $65,911
Thomas Duarte $59,139
Rawshawn Scott $6,667
Obligations + Dead Money
Dolphins 2017 Remaining Space
Cap - (Obligations + Dead Money)
Dead money numbers via and

Without making any additional roster moves, the Dolphins have about $38 million in salary cap space. This number will fluctuate some, depending on where you are looking and what numbers you are using. For example, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson recently wrote that the Dolphins are internally using a number around $13 million for their rollover into next year. The differences come from bonuses that may not be paid or adjustments to cap numbers for injuries (a team is not required to pay the salary for a player on the Non-Football Injury list, but they can choose to pay that salary or come to a deal to pay a portion of the salary) or other missed games that may not yet be public. As we get closer to the 2017 season, these numbers will eventually work themselves out.

There are moves that the Dolphins could - and some they are expected to - make, which will add more salary cap space to the team. These are not going to be players like quarterback Ryan Tannehill, center Mike Pouncey, and offensive tackle Branden Albert. It could very well be players like Mario Williams (cap savings of $7.2 million), linebacker Koa Misi (cap savings of $4.2 million), and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (cap savings of $4 million). Another interesting player to watch will be defensive end Dion Jordan, who, as he will miss the entire season on the Non-Football Injury list. There are rules under which Jordan’s contract could toll again, giving Miami an additional year of having his rights, but those rules are not exactly clear, so for now, we will assume he remains with his current contract as it is. If Miami were to cut him, he could give the team $3.2 million in cap space - but it might make more sense for Miami to keep him, at least through training camp, to see if their 2013 first-round pick can become a contributing member of the team.

Some of the Dolphins’ salary cap space will obviously go toward re-signing some of their upcoming free agents in 2017 or contract extensions for players entering the final year on their current contract.

2017 Dolphins Free Agents

Player Position Free Agent Type
Player Position Free Agent Type
Jordan Cameron TE Unrestricted
Andre Branch DE Unrestricted
Jason Jones DE Unrestricted
Jermon Bushrod G Unrestricted
John Denney LS Unrestricted
Spencer Paysinger LB Unrestricted
Chimdi Chekwa CB Unrestricted
Donald Butler LB Unrestricted
Sam Young OT Unrestricted
MarQueis Gray TE Unrestricted
Bacarri Rambo S Unrestricted
Jelani Jenkins LB Unrestricted
Dion Sims TE Unrestricted
Kenny Stills WR Unrestricted
Kiko Alonso LB Restricted
Dominique Jones TE Restricted
Michael Thomas S Restricted
Nicholas Williams DE Restricted
Damien Williams RB Restricted
Anthony Steen C Exclusive Rights
Mike Hull LB Exclusive Rights
Thomas Duarte TE Exclusive Rights
Lafayette Pitts CB Exclusive Rights
Rashawn Scott WR Exclusive Rights

Dolphins entering final year of contract in 2017

Player Position Free Agent Type
Player Position Free Agent Type
Ja'Wuan James RT 5-yr Option
Jarvis Landry WR Unrestricted
Walt Aikens S Unrestricted
Reshad Jones S Unrestricted
Matt Moore QB Unrestricted
Kraig Urbik G Unrestricted
Koa Misi LB Unrestricted
Earl Mitchell DT Unrestricted
Dion Jordan DE Unrestricted
Mario Williams DE Unrestricted
Terrence Fede DE Unrestricted
Cameron Wake DE Unrestricted
Matt Darr P Restricted
Andrew Franks K Restricted
Zach Vigil LB Restricted
Neville Hewitt LB Restricted
Jake Brendel C Exclusive Rights

Even with Tannehill’s cap number jumping to $20.3 million and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at $19.1 million, Miami is in a good salary cap position for next year. They already have nearly $40 million in space, based on the low-end of the NFL’s 2017 salary cap projection, and they could very easily add another $10- to $15-million with a few roster moves. They do have a few free agents they need to lock up, but even then, the team appears to be in a good position to possibly add a key free agent at a position like linebacker or defensive tackle to bolster the team before heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.