The Miami Dolphins have spent the day creating cap space so the team could be well under the $177.2 million salary cap at 4 p.m. Wednesday, when the new league year began around the NFL.
The Dolphins have cleared over $17.8 million in cap space in the last 24 hours through contract restructures.
The team on Wednesday afternoon concluded the restructure of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract. That says multiple things:
Tannehill’s cap number goes from $19.8 million this year to approximately $8.6 million. The Dolphins are saving $11.2 million in cap space with the move.
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It means the Dolphins most definitely plan to have Tannehill on the roster this year (we knew that) and the cost of cutting him in the next couple of years just got steeper. Cutting Tannehill in 2019 would save the Dolphins around $15.4 million instead of the $18.7 million originally scheduled while the dead money such a move would leave rises from $2.3 million to $5.6 million.
The Dolphins late Tuesday restructured the contract of safety Reshad Jones, which saved $6.6 million. The team converted over $8 million in base salary to guaranteed bonus. That new bonus will be added to the bonus proration in future years.
The league year began with the Dolphins having more than $17 million in cap room.
That is before the team takes on the contracts of receivers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson, the contract of special teams ace Walt Aikens, which was for two years and $2.7 million, and the tenders for exclusive rights free agents Jake Brendel, Mike Hull and Jordan Lucas.
That $17 million figure in cap space the Dolphins have before all those moves does, however, include cap charges for defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, linebacker Robert Quinn, and right tackle Ja’Wuan James.
The Dolphins have released Suh, The Miami Herald has learned. And while he’s no longer on the roster and free to test the free agent market, his $26 million cap charge remains on Miami’s books. T
The Dolphins are designating Suh a post-June 1 cut. That means the team must carry Suh’s contract until June but will get a $17 million cap windfall at that time. A source told The Herald the team will use that cap space to sign its draft picks and operate into the regular-season.
Quinn, coming to the Dolphins in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams, carries an $11.44 million cap charge this year. James, who will be Miami’s starting right tackle, is costing a guaranteed $9.3 million on the cap.
To look at Miami’s salary cap situation it’s easy to believe the team doesn’t have a lot of cap space. It’s also correct, relative to other teams.
But a club source insisted the team has more than enough cap room to accomplish what it plans to do during this free agency period.
That includes signing one veteran free agent offensive lineman -- likely a guard. The Dolphins want to add that player to an offensive line that already includes left tackle Laremy Tunsil, center Mike Pouncey, James at right tackle, and Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis competing for a starting guard spot.
Free agent guard Josh Sitton remains a name to watch for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins are able to free up more cap space by restructuring other players. They could save $4.79 million restructuring Kenny Stills. They could save $4.72 restructuring Kiko Alonso. There are other candidates as well.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero