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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2020 Cap Situation

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Money must grow on palm trees, because the Miami Dolphins are set to own the league in 2020.

According to Brian Flores and Chris Grier, “tanking” isn’t occurring, but if you believe the Miami Dolphins are exclusively planning for 2019, you’re falling for the trap the front office wants you to believe.

How gullible do they expect us to be?

If the 2020 quarterback class (mixed with the sub-par 2019 QB class) wasn’t enough enticing evidence that the Dolphins were planning to obtain their franchise quarterback at the turn of the decade, the trades of Ryan Tannehill and Robert Quinn for 2020 draft picks, as well as allowing Ja’Wuan James to sign with the Denver Broncos for a 2020 compensatory pick, further teases us with Miami’s plan.

A roster that needed to be expunged of expensive contracts, paired with an ever-increasing 2020 draft capital, tied together with a group of quarterbacks that rivals the 2004 draft class (that yielded Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger), and you have all the makings for a team that has formulated a plan directed at 2020.

Now, for the final piece of the puzzle. I present to you, Dawn Aponte‘s dream come true, a football team with minimal contractual obligations and a boat load of money to play with (or was that Mike Tannenbaum‘s dream…?):

Current Roster Situation:

Since 2014, the salary cap in the NFL has grown between $10m-$12m per year. With the salary cap currently sitting at $188.2m for 2019, let’s go ahead and assume that the cap increases another $12m and gives us a pretty $200m to work with for 2020.

At this very moment, the Miami Dolphins have ~$100m tied to the 2020 salary cap – giving us another $100m in cap space.

Their 5-biggest cap hits in 2020? Might not be on the 2019 roster let alone the 2020 squad:

If the Miami Dolphins are able to get anything for Reshad Jones before the beginning of the 2020 season, Chris Grier can consider himself Gandalf’s most formidable opponent, because that would be some kind of magic.

But frankly, even with Jones’ contract on the books for 2020, let’s look at how much more money Miami can remove from their cap:

  • Albert Wilson may be Miami’s 2018 offensive MVP (behind Frank Gore), but his season-ending hip injury raises enough cause for concern. While I expect Wilson to return to Miami in 2019 and perform, I’m not sure how much the Dolphins are willing to wager on a player we don’t currently know the status of.
    • $10m in salary cap space for any receiver is a lot. The dead cap space tied to Wilson’s 2020 salary ($1.33m) is extremely manageable, and much more appealing than the $10m roster option.
    • Depending on how Chad O’Shea views Wilson, he might choose to restructure his contract and remain with the team at a reduced rate. If he’s released prior to 2020, it’s a $9.5m cap savings for Miami.
    • Looking at the differential between Wilson’s cap hit and dead cap hit, it appears as if the original contract was essentially looked at as a two-year deal. I don’t think Miami ever expected to pay Wilson $10m in 2020.
  • Kenny Stills has been a professional workhorse and an off-the-field role model for children everywhere, but how valuable is a 28-year-old receiver entering his 8th NFL season?
    • In a vacuum, as a player, Kenny Stills is worth that $8.75 salary cap hit. But for a team looking to get younger and rebuild, are they going to retain Stills at an increased rate for his leadership qualities, or are they going to utilize the 2019 and 2020 draft to replenish their receiving corps?
    • With a $1.75m dead cap hit versus a $8.75m salary cap hit, Miami can save $7m in cap space by releasing Stills prior to 2020.
  • Kiko Alonso is simultaneously a fan favorite and a source of fan frustration. Set to cost $8.2m against the salary cap in 2020, the decision on Kiko may have already been made, and it’s just a matter of getting through the 2019 season before he’s off the roster.
    • Lets get a few things straight, Kiko’s durability and reliability are two things we thoroughly like about the linebacker, but with that reliability comes inconsistency, coverage liability, and average run defense.
    • With Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker set to cost $1.5m and $1.05m against the salary cap respectively in 2020, the Dolphins are able to afford Alonso, but would also be able to utilize the ~$6.4m salary cap savings to spend on any potential free agent they desire.
    • If Kiko is willing to renegotiate his contract and accept a salary cap hit that is under $6m, I think it’s more likely he stays. Anything above that $6m mark is best utilized elsewhere, even if it creates a hole at the position (a hole I expect them to fill in the 2019 or 2020 draft).
  • T.J. McDonald‘s dead cap hit in 2019 ($6.5m) is higher than his regular cap hit next season ($6m), but that shouldn’t keep the Dolphins from dealing the team’s other strong safety if they receive an offer. With McDonald, it almost doesn’t matter if the draft pick is in 2019 or 2020, the Dolphins are looking to purge his contract rather than pay a player to be a roadblock for Minkah Fitzpatrick at safety (since Reshad Jones isn’t going anywhere anytime soon).
    • The hope with McDonald, similar to Alonso, is that Flores’ defensive influence and an entirely new coaching staff will maximize their strengths rather than try and evolve their pitfalls. Cameron Wake should never drop back into coverage, but it was something he was asked to do on numerous occasions under Matt Burke‘s defense. Likewise, having Alonso cover a running back on a passing route is asking for an automatic first down.

After these top-5, your next-most expensive Miami Dolphins in 2020?:

Bobby McCain is one roster move away from becoming one of the top-5 most expensive players on the team. Poor contract or great cap management? Guess that can be viewed both ways – especially with his inconsistent performance last season after he was awarded with the new contract.

The only other player on this list that looks daunting is Minkah Fitzpatrick, and that’s only because cutting him would accelerate all of his bonuses and cause a heavy dead cap hit in 2020. I think it’s fairly obvious that Miami will not only retain Fitzpatrick at that rate, but he will be viewed as a bargain for that price.

The rest? Are almost a take-it-or-leave it skeleton crew of players that would only cost $1.5m in dead cap space between the 3 of them.

Miami’s cap space throughout Mike Tannenbaum’s tenure was always minimal, but it just shows that no matter how much hell one person voluntarily tries to create, it only takes a single season to undo all of the mistakes.

Granted, who here is enjoying a lost season while we have friends and family cheering for other successful franchises, but when you look at 2018 as a year in which the Dolphins tried to make a playoff push and “bought” towards it, it’s amazing how one offseason later they can be free from all of those restraints.

For an interesting reference, below is Miami’s salary cap space by year (since Mike Tannenbaum officially took over in 2015):

  • 2015: $8.05m
  • 2016: $14.21m
  • 2017: $38,597 (that’s $39k…)
  • 2018: $6.92m

Buying a Supporting Cast:

If you were envious of the New York Jets‘ spending spree this past offseason (where they landed Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, and Jameison Crowder), then be ready for a similar offseason from your Miami Dolphins in 2020.

Barring any crazy signings over the next few months, the Miami Dolphins will go into 2020 with $100m in available cap space, and that’s before they carry over any additional money from 2019.

As of this moment, the Miami Dolphins are set to carry-over $28m from 2019. Granted, Miami is going to have to sign injury-replacements, draft picks, various veterans that other teams cut as well as field an overall 90-man roster for training camp (they currently have 58 players on their roster…).

Expect that number to dwindle down to somewhere near $12-15m when the 2019 season is said and done, but that’s still a decent chunk of change to add to 2020. Essentially, that’s Le’Veon Bell savings right there.

Now the question is, would you be content with the Miami Dolphins utilizing their cap space to extend current players like Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard and Kenyan Drake? Or do you want to dip your toe in the free agency pool?

This is what happens when teams convince themselves a player they know nothing about is going to be better than a proven player they already have on their team (see: Miami Dolphins).

We all know how much we’re going to have to pay Tunsil and Howard – and if Drake breaks out in his contract year, you can expect him to sign a contract similar to Lamar Miller‘s 4-year, $26m ($14m guaranteed) contract back in 2016.

Outside of their own free agents (restricted, unrestricted or otherwise), the Dolphins would have the ability to sign potential 2020 free agents such as:

Offense:

  • Russell Wilson
  • Michael Thomas
  • Amari Cooper
  • Melvin Gordon
  • A.J. Green
  • Hunter Henry
  • Kyle Rudolph
  • Eric Ebron
  • Allen Hurns
  • Nathan Peterman
  • Josh Gordon

Defense:

  • Jadeveon Clowney
  • Leonard Williams
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
  • Kevin Johnson
  • Ronald Darby
  • Bradley Roby
  • Marcus Peters
  • Grady Jarrett
  • Michael Brockers
  • Kyle Van Noy
  • DeMarcus Lawrence
  • Frank Clark
  • Dante Fowler Jr.
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Trae Waynes
  • Vic Beasley
  • Brent Grimes

Who needs to draft defensive linemen in 2019 when you can buy an entire defensive line in 2020 – and still have money to spare!

What Miami needs to ensure is that they don’t sign the wrong players.

Mike Wallace was the wrong player. Ndamukong Suh was a very good player, but signed to the wrong contract. Branden Albert was a good player, but what exactly did we get from that signing?

Similar to what the Jets are doing now, the Dolphins are set to build a roster around a young quarterback. The team already has a formidable group of core, young players that they can plug into various spots on the roster (McMillan, Baker, Fitzpatrick, Tunsil, Kalen Ballage, Jesse Davis, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor).

What the team needs to do is utilize the 2019 and 2020 drafts to supplement the roster with more young, cheap talent and then use free agency for its intended purpose which is to patch any holes your roster might have – not to be the solution for your overall roster problem. Until 2020 hits, we’ll be impatiently waiting to see who the Dolphins future franchise quarterback is, but once they have their selection, you can bet he’ll have a proper supporting cast around them.

It will be really hard for the Miami Dolphins to get this wrong – especially after doing everything right this current offseason to set themselves up. Then again, another failed rebuild would be the most Miami Dolphins’ thing they could do.

(contract statistics courtesy of Spotrac)

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Anthony

    April 2, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Great piece. I played around on Spotrac and even if we were to extend our big 3 of Howard, Drake and Tunsil (and Grant cuz why not), we should still have around 65 million to play with. Plenty of funds to make some moves!

  2. Avatar

    Chris J. Ephgrave

    April 3, 2019 at 7:44 am

    I honestly fear we’re going to play to well in 2019 and somehow end up 7-9 again! We have plenty of low end ’20 picks but they don’t get you from outside the top ten to #1. Plus there will for sure be at least 3 teams looking to get QB1: WR, OR,CB, NYG(?) negating any “will” to deal?

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Miami Dolphins

Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: MotorSportWeek.com

This may be the last thing on the mind of Miami Dolphins fans everywhere, but there seems to be a prominent legal battle taking place in South Florida.

A new Formula 1 race track was recently approved (by a 6-6 vote) to be “built” around Hard Rock Stadium, with races beginning in 2021.

While city officials press to approve the new track, local residents are up in arms about the potential race. F1 cars are notoriously loud, and as we mentioned above, these races aren’t contained within an arena or stadium.

City officials believe this will bring in additional revenue for Miami and the surrounding area, as annual races are expected to be held around Hard Rock Stadium for the next 10 years. The local populous is arguing that these races are too loud for local streets, and will cause an enormous amount of disturbance and will be detrimental to the environment. Overall, this will cause a “serious degrade to their quality of life.”

Just so you can have a reference, F1 engines tend to run between 130-145 decibels. If you go to a concert and stand relatively close to an amplifier, you’re only dealing with about 100-110 decibels. The average lawn mower is about 90 decibels. Needless to say, these engines are LOUD.

Unlike NASCAR, Formula 1 (F1) race tracks are essentially “created” using local roadways that are already in place. Though there is obviously a lot of preparation that goes into “creating” the course (to ensure the safety of racers and fans alike), no new venues need to be built.

With that said, the City of Miami Gardens and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are attempting to host the race solely on Hard Rock Stadium grounds. Given Ross’ ownership in the land surrounding Hard Rock Stadium, it’s possible this race doesn’t officially occur on any public roads.

To give some background, Stephen Ross attempted to buy F1 a couple of years ago, but the sale ended up going to another group. Though he didn’t win the bid, he reached an agreement with the new owners and is now one step closer to making the Miami Grand Prix a reality.

Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, issued the following statement on behalf of the approved 6-6 decision:

This recent vote was the biggest hurdle potentially preventing the Miami Grand Prix from happening. Though the legal battles aren’t over, it seems unlikely that the decision to host F1 races will be reversed.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are beginning to bulk up the depth of their roster as they head into free agency.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Dolphins have signed tight end Michael Roberts. The exact terms of the contract are currently unknown.

Originally a 4th-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Roberts has served mostly as a backup tight end; accumulating 146 yards on 13 receptions in 23 active games between 2017-2018.

Roberts was placed on injured-reserve towards the end of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, and was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional 2020 7th-round pick prior to the 2019 season. Due to medical reasons, the trade was voided a couple of days later.

The Green Bay Packers claimed Roberts off of waivers, but he was subsequently released by the Packers two days later for failing a physical. Roberts was not active for any games in 2019.

Signing Roberts doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins aren’t going to pursue tight ends in free agency or in the draft. Mike Gesicki is the only “lock” to make the 2020 roster, as Durham Smythe‘s blocking ability might not survive if the Dolphins find themselves in an advantageous situation at the position.

Look at this as a way for Miami to get ahead of evaluations.

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Miami Dolphins

A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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J.K. Dobbins 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.

Person B is ready to go with their mock.

Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.

I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.

They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.

Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida

As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.

Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”

Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”

Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”

Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”

[resends mock draft to Person B]

“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”

Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”

Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.

So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”

Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”

Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”

And that wraps things up with Person B.

What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).

Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…

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