The NFL has set the 2019 salary cap at $188.2 million per team, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The number is slightly lower than the $190 million estimates that had been previously used, but represents an $11 million increase from 2018’s cap. The $188.2 million will be the base number for all 32 teams, but rollover from last year as well as other factors from the league could lead to a team having more or less than $188.2 million to use this season.
The Miami Dolphins, under the NFL’s Top-51 rule that calculates just the highest 51 salaries on the roster throughout the offseason and preseason, currently have $172.6 million in money counting against their cap - using OverTheCap.com’s numbers. That does not include $13.6 million in dead money, or money owed in salary cap accounting for players no longer on the roster, with most of that $13.1 million from Ndamukong Suh’s signing bonus.
Once everything is added into Miami’s cap number and spending, the team has about $9.6 million in space heading into the offseason.
As we previously discussed, the Dolphins have plenty of ways to make salary cap space this year. Miami could look to cut players this offseason, even eating more dead money in order to create savings. Players who could be released creating over $1 million in cap savings are:
- Ryan Tannehill - Cap savings: $13.2 million; Dead money: $13.4 million
- Robert Quinn - Cap savings: $12.9 million; Dead money: $0
- Kenny Stills - Cap savings: $4.25 million; Dead money: $5.5 million
- DeVante Parker - Cap savings: $9.39 million; Dead money: $0
- Andre Branch - Cap savings: $7.00 million; Dead money: $2.00 million
- Kiko Alonso - Cap savings: $4.75 million; Dead money: $3.53 million
- Josh Sitton - Cap savings: $5.00 million; Dead money: $2.00 million
- Danny Amendola - Cap savings: $6.00 million; Dead money: $0
- Akeem Spence - Cap savings: $2.50 million; Dead money: $0
- Daniel Kilgore - Cap savings: $2.40 million; Dead money: $0
- Ted Larsen - Cap savings: $1.88 million; Dead money: $416,668
- Xavien Howard - Cap savings: $1.29 million; Dead money: $664,189
- Walt Aikens - Cap savings: $1.40 million; Dead money: $0
- Nick O’Leary - Cap savings: $1.00 million; Dead money: $100,000
Some of those players are expected to be released, including Quinn, Parker, and Branch. Some are likely releases, like Tannehill. Some could be re-signed to different contracts, like Howard. Miami has options, and will likely use a lot of them, to create space this year. The team is expected to start a rebuild period, looking for long-term sustained success. That does not mean they will not look to win in 2019, but they are also going to be a little more frugal with their spending, and they could be looking to start younger players rather than relying on older veterans - and expensive veterans - to fill the roster.
That could allow Miami to open up cap space this year - then hold on to it and roll it into next year. They could look to grab a key veteran or two this year, then continue to look to the younger players to build.
Whatever the case, the Dolphins have work to do to create cap space. And, now that the number for 2019 is official, they can start getting a better idea of exactly what they need to do.