There has been a lot of talk this offseason about the clause the Miami Dolphins included in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's record-setting contract that allows them to change a year's base salary into a signing bonus. That move then allows the team to account for the money evenly over the life of the contract, rather than having to take a huge salary cap hit in any one single season. Conventional wisdom has Miami using that option this season in an effort to lower Suh's salary cap number from $28.6 million to around $9.8 million for 2016. The question, however, then becomes what that move would do to the rest of Suh's contract.
Suh is currently scheduled to make $23.485 million this year in a guaranteed base salary, to go with the $5.1 million in the prorated amount from his signing bonus included in the original contract. The base salary is then divided over the five years remaining on the contract, meaning the bonus would become $4.697 per year over the remainder of Suh's contract. That amount would then be added to the $5.1 million bonus already owed during the 2016 through 2019 seasons, as well as added to the 2020 season, which is without a prorated signing bonus amount as of now.
The base salary for each year is then added in as well.
That would make the salary cap number for Suh for each season:
|Base salary||Previous signing bonus||Converted bonus||Salary cap number|
These numbers could be slightly off, given that the Dolphins may choose to not convert all of Suh's base salary into a converted bonus this season, or any number of other factors that could play into the calculations, but it does give an idea of what making the conversion would mean for the Dolphins in the next five years. Of course, this also does not take into account other things that will happen in the next few years, like an ever-increasing salary cap for the league, and potentially re-working Suh's contract in later years.
The Dolphins signed Suh to the largest contract for a defensive player in league history last offseason (one that will likely be surpassed when the Denver Broncos re-sign Von Miller). A contract like that is going to tie up salary cap space throughout the life of it, and at some point, Miami is going to have to eat a large cap number. They can, however, push that down the road this year, giving them some relief for 2016 and working to find a better way to deal with those large numbers sometime in the future.