Another day, another cornerstone Dolphins player out the door.
That’s the reality in Miami, as ESPN first reported what has long been suspected: that the Dolphins plan to release defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh before the start of free agency.
The Herald has since confirmed the report.
The Dolphins plan to cut him Wednesday under the June 1 designation, which would free up some $17 million in salary cap space. The Dolphins would not be able to use those resources until the summer.
Suh’s time in Miami seems to be over just three years after the Dolphins made him the highest-paid defensive player in league history. He’s halfway through six-year, $114 million contract, but had massive salary cap obligations during the next two years. He was set to count $26.1 million against this year’s cap and $28.1 against next year’s — which puts him in line with elite quarterbacks, not defensive tackles.
The move saves the Dolphins some $36 million in cap space during the next two years.
In all, the Dolphins paid Suh $60 million over three years. For that investment, he gave them 181 tackles, 15 1/2 sacks, one Pro Bowl appearance, one winning season but zero playoff wins.
Suh’s release would be the second time the Dolphins moved on from a former Pro Bowler in just a matter of days — and the third time since October.
Miami traded Jarvis Landry to the Browns late last week, just months after shipping running back Jay Ajayi to the Eagles.
Suh has been an excellent player, but one Adam Gase inherited from his predecessor. People familiar with the team’s thinking have long suggested that Dolphins brass see Suh’s massive contract as an anchor around their financial necks.
The Dolphins have struggled to build a complete roster considering last year Suh and Ryan Tannehill combined to account for nearly a quarter of their salary cap. And the Dolphins’ defense has been bad in each of Suh’s three seasons, ranking no better than 16th in yards and no better than 18th in points allowed in any of those seasons.
Suh hinted that his days in Miami were numbered with a Monday morning video posted on Twitter, in which he said “Stay tuned. There will be some excited news going on.”
Taken in the aggregate, it’s hard to view this purge of good, talented players as a serious reset, if not a total rebuild. The Dolphins have gone 6-10 in two of the last three seasons, and had a chance to tank after Ryan Tannehill went down with a second knee injury in eight months.
They could have traded Landry and perhaps even Suh then, saved $10 million on Jay Cutler and likely been bad enough for a premium draft pick. And they would have been in position to be one of the biggest players in free agency this year.
They are still expected to be active when the league year begins Wednesday afternoon, but they still need to shed salary just to get under the salary cap.
Big-ticket veterans Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas not return (Timmons was cut Monday), and there were rumblings throughout the league that Miami could trade right tackle Ja’Wuan James.