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Dolphins releasing Kyle Van Noy in salary cap move

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins and Kyle Van Noy are discussing a move to release the veteran linebacker, according to a report from ESPN. The move would be done with an eye towards the team’s salary cap situation, and would create $9.8 million in cap space. The report comes from ESPN’s Dolphins beat writer Cameron Wolfe.

The move is a bit of a surprise, with Van Noy solidifying a key role with the Dolphins last year, helping the team’s defense become the strength of the club. Van Noy recorded 69 tackles with six sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and six passes defensed in 2020, his first season with the Dolphins. Van Noy spent 2016 through 2019 with the New England Patriots after beginning his career with the Detroit Lions, where he was a second-round draft pick in 2014, remaining with the team into 2016 before a mid-season trade to the Patriots.

Van Noy signed a four-year, $51 million contract with Miami last offseason, including $30 million guaranteed. He is scheduled to account for a $13.9 million cap number this season, then $13.65 million in 2022 and $12.55 million in 2023. Miami would carry $4.1 million in dead money should they release him.

The $30 million in guaranteed money includes $15 million fully guaranteed and $15 million in injury guarantee. The fully guaranteed money included a $5.5 million signing bonus and Van Noy’s $9.5 million salary from last year. His $12.5 million 2021 salary would become guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2021 league year, should he be on the roster.

If Miami does move on from Van Noy, Andrew Van Ginkel would likely see an expanded role in the Dolphins’ 2021 defense. The Dolphins could already be in the market for a linebacker this year and releasing Van Noy might increase that need, with it being addressed in either free agency or the Draft.

UPDATE: NFL Network’s Mike Garagolo reports the Dolphins have informed Van Noy he is being released.

UPDATE 2 (1:40pm ET): Wolfe adds that, as of 1:33pm ET on March 2, Van Noy has not been released, with the possibility of a trade or restructured contract still on the table, but that it does appear he will be released.

UPDATE 3 (1:43pm ET): The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reports Van Noy is “surprised and disappointed in [the Dolphins’] decision.

UPDATE 4 (1:46pm ET): Jackson adds that the Dolphins never approached Van Noy about a contract restructure. They were only interested in saving the salary cap space.

Commentary: The Dolphins structured Van Noy’s contract specifically so they could walk away from it after the 2020 season. It feels like they purposely built the four-year contract to really be a one-year, $15 million deal, with $5.5 million able to be spread across two years on the salary cap. No discussion of a restructure makes it feel like they looked at Van Noy as a one-year rental to get them to this offseason.

UPDATE 5 (1:55pm ET): Garafolo tweeted the entire statement from Van Noy:

I am surprised and disappointed in their decision. As a captain, I gave my all to the team. I fought through a painful hip injury during the season, including spending a night in the hospital after a game. I was brought there to be a leader and I know my teammates looked up to and respected me. I am looking forward to making an impact on my next team, on and off the field.