A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Monday night:
▪ The Dolphins are carrying an absurd $41 million in dead money this season, and credit the front office for taking steps, over the past few months, to leave themselves at less financial risk moving forward.
An examination of the dozen most significant deals signed by this regime since January show the Dolphins have taken very little risk beyond the Xavien Howard contract, and in Howard’s case, it was necessary and justified to allocate $27 million in guaranteed money to secure a longterm commitment from one of the game’s best young cornerbacks.
The Jakeem Grant contract extension provides the latest example. According to a copy of the contract viewed by the Miami Herald, only $3.7 million of the four-year extension, through 2023, is fully guaranteed.
Unless Grant sustains a serious injury next season, the Dolphins could - if they choose - walk away from his deal before the fifth day of the league year next March without paying him a penny more than the $3 million signing bonus he received when he signed the contract last week, plus his $720,000 salary this season. His $3.8 million base salary in 2020 is guaranteed only in the event of injury. And the 2020 dead money hit for releasing him before next season -which is unlikely - is $2.4 million.
The four-year extension is worth just under $20 million, with another $4.3 million in incentives deemed as “not likely to be earned” - which relate to receptions, yards receiving, team performance and Pro Bowl appearances. If Grant is retained through the end of the deal in 2023, the cap hits are modest ($4.3 million to $5.1 million each season between 2020 and ‘23, slightly higher if those incentives are met).
Now look at the other multiyear deals the Dolphins doled out this offseason.
The Dolphins would have no 2020 dead money on DeVante Parker’s two-year contract if they decide to move on after this season and not pay him the $4.4 million (non-guaranteed) he’s due in 2020. Miami signed Dwayne Allen to a two-year deal, but there’s only $1.2 million in dead money if they cut him this week and no 2020 dead money if they cut him at any time.
Chris Reed, Miami’s likely top backup interior lineman, got a two-year deal but there’s no 2020 dead money if Miami cuts him after this season.
And Ryan Fitzpatrick, signed before Miami knew Josh Rosen would become available, was given a two-year deal, but only $1.5 million his $5.5 million base salary in 2020 is guaranteed. If Miami cuts him before 2020, there’s only $1.5 million in dead money for 2020, and the Dolphins might be able to trade him for a third-day pick if a contending team sustains an injury to a starting quarterback before October’s trade deadline.
And that’s the extent of the Dolphins’ multiyear deals since January.
Credit general manager Chris Grier and vice president/football administration Brandon Shore for protecting Miami with many of these contracts this year.
Miami is on pace to have more than $95 million in cap space next offseason - including the ability to carry over most of $21 million in current space.
▪ The Dolphins seem to like the upside of a Reshad Jones/Bobby McCain safety tandem, though they also have the option of using Minkah Fitzpatrick some there.
“I think the communication between those two, they have a great rapport,” Brian Flores said of Jones and McCain. “I’m looking forward to working with both guys.”
Flores said Jones “is going to have to get himself back into playing shape” after returning to partial practice participation last week from a foot injury that sidelined him nearly three weeks.
McDonald and Jones are both skilled players, but that was never an ideal pairing because both are better at strong safety.
Jones said of McDonald’s departure: “I hate to see it happen to a good dude like that” but added that he and McCain should complement each other well.
“Playing with him for a while [with McCain at cornerback in recent years], I think it helps, as far as communication, knowing where each other is going to be,” Jones said. “Bobby can cover guys. Now they got him back deep.”
▪ Jones, who has said all the right things since he returned to practice in June, said something interesting Tuesday when asked if he would be further along learning the defense if he had attended a month of voluntary workouts in parts of May and June instead of training on his own.
“I probably would be,” he admitted. “[But] I was coming off a tough [shoulder] injury. I needed to get myself physically ready to go, which I did. I’m here and I’m excited to play whatever is going to help this team win games… Physically, I think I’m ready to go. I’m close. I think by the first game, I’ll be where I need to be.”
▪ Mark Walton, speaking Monday about a preseason in which he has impressed as a receiver in games (five catches for 32 yards and a touchdown) and in practice but averaged just 1.4 yards on 17 rushes in preseason:
“I have to do my job, be patient or find more room,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve done enough to impress them.”
▪ Akeem Spence said Flores impressed everyone when he stood up before the team at the end of a meeting last week and expressed support for the social causes that Kenny Stills has advocated.
“That was very different, when he said ‘Kenny, come out, I support you. I think what Kenny is doing is great.’ For a coach to say that, that’s uplifting,” Spence said.
“Sometimes fans in the outside world look at Kenny in a negative aspect but Kenny does great things around the community. I feel bad because the protests and kneeling sometimes get wrong attention and it really [stinks]. I was glad to hear coach say, I support you because he’s lived it. That’s cool.”
▪ Quick stuff: As Fox’s Troy Aikman said, Jim Caldwell’s need to take a leave of absence this season for health reasons will hurt Dolphins quarterbacks. Rosen said Monday he hasn’t had contact with him… Albert Wilson said he’s “joking... all the time” with offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea about using him in the Wildcat role that Adam Gase utilized a handful of times last season....Jesse Davis, examining ways to “cover distance but be balanced,” said he’s studied NFL tackles Lane Johnson and Ja’Wuan James (his former Dolphins teammate) to prepare for playing the position this season. Laremy Tunsil “is different because he’s real athletic and can cover ground with shorter kicks,” Davis said.
Here’s my Monday piece with news on the quarterback situation and an injury update.