By: Chip Turner
At about noon today, ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the story that Houston and Miami agreed to swap Benardrick McKinney for Shaq Lawson in addition to swapping Miami’s 6th round pick for Houston’s 7th round pick in 2021.
So, what’s the deal with this deal?
First, Benardrick McKinney is a better run defender than Lawson. While Miami’s defense was among the best in the league at points allowed, their run defense was pedestrian at best. He’s about a year and a half older than Lawson, but he’s still on the right side of 30. And while he’s coming off a shoulder injury that prematurely ended his 2020 season, he missed a total of two games in the four years before that.
Second, while this trade doesn’t free up much salary cap at first glance, Benardrick McKinney is considerably more likely to restructure his contract than Lawson was. Shaq Lawson would have cost Miami more to cut than to keep, so the only way to potentially move Lawson’s $10mm contract off the books (unless he restructured) was to trade him. While we don’t know if Lawson was approached regarding a restructure, trading him only cost Miami $2.7mm in dead cap, saving them $6.8mm. And while McKinney’s contract this year costs Miami $7.9mm against the cap, he only has a $1.5mm dead cap number.
In other words, McKinney has every reason to sit down and renegotiate a contract that not only has no guaranteed money on it, but also costs his new employer almost nothing to get rid of. He and his agent are undoubtedly aware of this. Remember, football is a business first and foremost.
Finally, the Dolphins have had their eyes on McKinney for a while; there were rumors that they tried to acquire him in the Tunsil trade in 2019. So he’s clearly a player that Brian Flores has coveted as a run-stuffer.
At worst, this is a move that costs Miami very little trade capital and very little salary, while improving their run defense and creating a hole at EDGE. At best, however, this trade allows Miami to free up a considerable amount of salary cap for a move once free agency starts.
Buckle up, folks, and remember to keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle. This ride isn’t over yet.
Miami cap situation following the trade as per www.spotrac.com.