Last week I did a post highlighting not only the cap issues that face the Miami Dolphins with free agency right around the corner but also pointed out the players with the top cap hits in 2023. There is zero debate with the team already more than 16 million dollars over the cap that there needs to be a combination of cuts or trades and certainly some reworking of some of the biggest contracts. There could also be some guys that are extended, lessening their cap hit in 2023 despite the money they are actually making this season going up when you factor in signing bonuses.
For the players with the biggest cap hits in 2023 I also broke down each scenario that could lessen their cap hit this upcoming season. I then asked, knowing that some of these deals need to be reworked or just gone altogether which combination of these you would like to see before free agency so that the team can actually sign enough players to round out the roster? While the team currently has 44 of the 53 needed players under contract some of those will not make it out of training camp if they are not cut before then. With only five draft picks and needing somewhere in the double digits of new players there will be a lot of juggling going on at Dolphins headquarters in the coming days.
Below are some of the varying opinions of our own readers and what they would see as the ideal way to handle the cap issues going forward-
coluccim feels as if the roster will be filled out with league-minimum players or with our own free agents.
We only have 43 players signed. In essence, we are probably 30 million or so over after building a roster with league-minimum guys. (about $1 mill each). If you want to resign our own, that number probably hits $40 - $50 mil over.
sdphinsfan proposes a sound approach with a variety of different things being done.
I have a simple rule of thumb on this stuff. When it comes to re-working and extending, if a player is 28 years old or less, do it. If they are 28-30, proceed with caution depending on the position they play and their injury history. 31+, now you’re playing with fire. Short-term deals with easy exit terms only for this group.... would work with Hill and Chubb’s deals. Byron is gone post-June 1. Extend Wilkins, kick Hunt out to RT, and add a G in FA. As for the rest of it, there’s no way around it. Brandon needs to come back healthy, first and foremost. Needham might not be too costly coming off of injury so bring him back based on his recovery. Then, it comes down to coaching and seriously developing some guys.... One caveat on moving Hunt. I keep forgetting and we don’t mention often enough that Eric Fisher is on this roster. If he’s healthy, and if I recall his issue was a calf when we signed him, an OL of TA/Eich/Williams/Hunt/Fisher looks pretty good on paper...
21Dave like most of us sees Jones gone and also agrees with me, to extend Wilkins now. Some players just deserve what they deserve when they give everything they have to the team.
Bye bye Jones post-June, Restructure everyone else and sign Wilkins to an extension. We need the bodies including Baker until we can draft replacements. Then the replacements need to take the proper steps to see the playing time. Throwing players to the wolves is the worst approach in my mind. It stints more players than helps them. Yes, some overcome and adapt, but must most regress focusing on doing the only things that come second nature to them. Get in the house coach them up, get their mind right then send them to battle. This level is so much more complex than the level they just left. I would guess comparing double-digit math to trigonometry would be a good comparison. This is just seen ball go get ball.
tvegas897 believes that Grier has really screwed up the cap and is not sure how the team gets out of the mess that they made with the cap.
What I see is a lousy job of cap management with some of these ridiculous contracts. X being restructured while he held Miami hostage was criminal. Miami caved and it was a lousy deal overall. Should have traded his overpaid arse. Chubb? He has a lot to prove, and another large contract they are stuck with for a while. Does Miami even get cap relief on Jones if he retires? Paid him too much as well. Baker? Never was worth the dough. Not sure how Miami maneuvers its way out of this. Good luck Grier. You got us here.
Dolfanjoe sees the team on the cusp and that means we have some big-dollar star players but to keep it rolling would have do so through the draft ala the Patriots for many years. Now he’s just hoping that Grier can maneuver his way through the mess to keep this thing rolling for a few more years.
The problem with most teams is that we are now at the cusp of being a top team in the NFL. We have talent and we have stars. Some years ago the Seahawks found themselves in the same position, but they drafted their way there. The results were the same, after rookie deals were completed they could no longer keep the stars they had assembled. We are a mixed bag of free agents and draft picks. What we see here is a team with a small window of opportunity to go for it all. This usually leads to cap problems and bad years down the line. Very good drafting and a great system installed as the Pats did for so many years could also help us avoid that! Me, like most of us. Want to win and be on top? This will require restructures of contracts and bringing in some more talent, Even if it buries us down the line even more. The NFL taking draft picks from us did hurt our future, and even this year another first-rounder to have to trade back for more picks and add to depth now and for the future would have been huge! This is now Grier’s show! And one thing he can do is finagle contracts, this can be our saving grace for the next two years. Yea we still need to find some gems to replace some of the players. Like finding Koho, and finding us either in the draft or free agency a cheap running back star. The cap can be manipulated, it continues to go up with the ridiculous TV contracts, so most of the time it's not as bad as it looks. This is our opportunity, and it is here now! Let's hope they don’t blow it!
Call_for_the_Priest’77 doesn't seem to think prayer will be the answer to the team's cap issues but he does offer up his opinion on several other things that the front office could do to fix the issues.
It only makes sense to restructure the contracts of players you intend to keep for at least a few years more. The guys mentioned in the article (except for Byron Jones) fit the bill IMO. Reducing their total cap hit over several years through extension/restructuring makes sense because you anticipate getting good mileage out of them over that period. Things go awry when you have to bring in new players (especially veterans through trade / FA) to replace former players. In this case, you are taking on more cap hits on top of dead money. These guys (Hill, Chubb, Armstead, Wilkins, Baker, and Howard) look like they are going to produce for another 3 - 4 years at least. Jones is obviously out of the picture now. He alone will save us just under $4M in cap savings with post-June 1st cut, which amounts to just under 25% of our cap overage. Emmanuel Ogbah probably is still a good player and I would love to keep him from a playing standpoint but I believe we would be better off moving him. According to the article, we could save either $11.2M or $15.2M in cap space by trading him (pre and post-June respectively). A pre-June trade to a cap-surplus team looking for a good edge defender may be more realistic assuming it creates a lesser financial burden for the new team (who could then manipulate his contract favorably toward their cap situation). We may have to settle for a 6 or 7th-round pick in return, but the cap savings is the real deal here. Overall, I don’t think we are in as bad shape as some might think. Ogbah and Jones alone could offset nearly our entire cap overage (or less likely, the entire overage)! Sure we are still going to want new players and some players we want to keep may have to go. I remain positive because we have invested in players we intend to keep long-term, and who look like they are going to deliver for us.
So as with everything we have varying opinions on how to fix the cap but most everyone seems to agree on a post-June 1st cut of Jones.
If you would like to join in on the conversations where we highlight some of our favorite comments (and even some that I don’t agree with) be sure to sign up for a Phinsider account. You can look for our Monday evening question of the day post (usually posted at 8:00 PM EST) and we will post the follow-up on Saturday evenings and return to Friday evenings again when the 2023 NFL season begins.