Barry Jackson

Here’s how the Miami Dolphins will look to clear cap space

Spending flexibility shouldn’t be a problem for the Dolphins this offseason.

We hear they plan to clear out substantial cap space over the next couple of months, and restructuring Ndamukong Suh’s contract is one vehicle that very much appeals to them.

The Dolphins want Suh back next season but plan to lower his $26.1 million cap hit.

The Dolphins could save $12 million in 2018 space by converting that amount into a signing bonus, which would reduce his hit to $14 million but come with future cap consequences down the road. A smaller restructuring is also a possibility.

The Dolphins enter the offseason with about $17 million in space. But a team source said the club believes it could clear out $60 million if it wants.

Here’s how that likely will be done:

• The Suh restructure, using that purely hypothetical $12 million conversion, would give Miami $29 million in space.

• Cutting Julius Thomas, which is very likely, saves $6.6 million and raises the Dolphins’ cap space to nearly $36 million.

• Dumping Lawrence Timmons, which is very likely, carries $2.75 million in dead money but saves $5.5 million, bringing Miami’s cap space to north of $41 million.

• Releasing Ja’Wuan James saves $9.3 million, increasing Miami’s cap space to about $51 million. Miami could offer him a contract with a lower salary. Regardless, James is not expected to return at his $9.3 million salary.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he's disappointed with the season after the Fins' loss to the Buffalo Bills. (Video contains graphic language)

• To get to that $60 million figure, the Dolphins could restructure Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey. There’s also the option of a renegotiation with Cameron Wake, who is due to make $8 million next season with an $8.6 million cap hit. He didn’t play as well in the second half of the season as the first half.

Remember, Reshad Jones, Andre Branch, Kenny Stills and Kiko Alonso have higher cap numbers if they are cut than if they are kept (according to overthecap.com), so persuading Branch and Alonso to restructure would be difficult.

Those aforementioned 11 players are the only ones due to make $2 million or more next season.

And of the seven players earning between $1 million and $2 million in base salary next season (DeVante Parker, Laremy Tunsil, T.J. McDonald, Ted Larsen, Xavien Howard, Stephone Anthony and Jordan Phillips), nothing realistic can/should be done with any unless the Dolphins surprisingly cut Larsen, whose $1.9 million cap number for 2018 makes him good value for a starting guard.

So clearing out $60 million, as one team source said, wouldn’t be particularly difficult.

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about the Fins' bizarre season and Jarvis Landry's ejection after their final game of the season, a loss to the Buffalo Bills.

And $60 million is the number the Dolphins believe they can easily get to, if they choose.

How ever much is cleared out would be used on re-signing Jarvis Landry, signing a draft class and having a cushion of money heading into camp and acquiring players to fill multiple needs: another starting linebacker, another rotational defensive end, at least one starting offensive lineman, two tight ends, a running back, a backup quarterback and a kicker (Miami wants to re-sign Cody Parkey.)

Some of those needs could be addressed in the draft.

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