By: Jason Sarney
During a week in the NFL that could be dubbed “cut week,” prior to next week’s free agent signing period, the Miami Dolphins have several candidates whose contracts are prime candidates for either restructuring, releasing or trading.
When looking at the top five salaried players for the Dolphins, the top two are Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, who account for a bit over 15% of the team’s cap. After the cornerbacks, DeVante Parker is scheduled to make $11.9 million in 2021. He’s heading into his seventh year and has only played a full 16-game season once in his career, in 2019.
After a stellar 2019 season for Miami, Parker cooled off a bit in 2020; his production was essentially halved, and he isn’t necessarily a true #1 receiver for an NFL team.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Dolphins move away from Parker. Even though there would be a relative dead cap hit of $8 million, there would still be a 2021 salary cap savings of just under $4 million.
Parker may not hold heavy trade value, and he of course could be a candidate to restructure, but if the Dolphins are looking to sign a top-end wide receiver in free agency as well as draft one in the top 50 in April, the current Dolphins wide receiver room is in for a potential shakeup.
Moving to the other side of the ball, Shaq Lawson has a contract that should be on the table for a restructure opportunity. He doesn’t have a contract that you can cut, as there would over $10.6mm dead cap money, damaging the Dolphins’ 2021 cap number.
It’ll be interesting to see if this is a contract that the Dolphins could trim and create some room, as the team still needs pass rushing, so Lawson is a prime candidate for a restructured deal.
Shifting back to offense, but in the non-playmaker area, guard Ereck Flowers played fantastic in spurts for the Dolphins in his first year with the team. However, the offensive line room is becoming increasingly crowded with the addition of Isaiah Wilson at tackle, prime guards available in free agency and in the upcoming draft. This leaves Miami with a conundrum of a contract with Ereck Flowers.
Having six years under his belt in the NFL and a base salary of just under $9 million in 2021, cutting Flowers would result in a huge dead cap number and leave the Dolphins in the red in this particular transaction. A cut would cost the Dolphins around $1,000,000 in 2021 cap space.
The move, in my opinion, is to try and package Flowers in another deal or as a stand-alone trade. Miami would send him as the lone player to a team with more money to burn, but also attach a late 2021 or 2022 draft pick and ask for a sixth or a seventh back simply to lose this contract.
As mentioned before, there is a reason the Dolphins were so successful in the secondary and as a defensive unit overall last year. It was because of their two top paid players in Jones and Howard.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see one or both of those contracts restructured in some way, and in all honesty, it wouldn’t shock me in the least if one of those players was traded to trim the salary cap and obtain valuable draft capital. Jones and Howard will combine to make a little over $26 million in 2021.
There were other players referenced earlier in this week with contracts potentially on the cutting block, such as Bobby McCain and Jakeem Grant, yet there are other candidates for restructuring. Eric Rowe, Albert Wilson (who is expendable in my opinion), and simply due to his versatility and leadership, Jesse Davis should be a consideration for restructuring. At the same time, these players are not 100% guaranteed to Miami Gardens.
With mere days of speculation left before the March 17th free agency kickoff, all we can all do is have fun with our individual scenarios. Thanks to sites like spotrac.com and overthecap.com, we all can put our fantasy general manager hats on, sit back, and watch as NFL teams do it for real.