8 moves Dolphins can make to free up $55 million in cap space

The 2023 league year begins March 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET, meaning all 32 teams will need to be under the salary cap by that time.

At this moment, the Miami Dolphins are roughly $16.56 million over the $225.71 million salary cap that they have to work with after their rollovers from 2022.

General manager Chris Grier and senior vice president of football and business administration Brandon Shore will be busy over the next week to make sure that the Dolphins comply with the salary regulations.

These are a few moves that Miami could make if they wanted to create roughly $55 million in cap space ($39 million under the cap):

Restructure WR Tyreek Hill - save $11.13 million

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Miami traded for and signed Hill to a long-term deal last offseason, but they did it in such a way that allows for a restructure to benefit them if they know he’s going to be in South Florida.

At the moment, Hill’s 2023 cap hit is $31.45 million. A restructure would drop that to about $20.32 million, saving $11.13 million.

Restructure LB Bradley Chubb - save $14.66 million

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Similar to Hill, Chubb was traded for and signed to an extension immediately last season. However, Chubb’s acquisition was done in the middle of the year. While he didn’t put up the sack numbers that some were expecting, he was still impacting opposing offenses and quarterbacks.

If the linebacker is going to be around for some time, Miami could restructure his $22 million cap hit to around $7.54 million. This would save $14.66 million.

Trade DE Emmanuel Ogbah - save $11.19 million

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The Dolphins surprised some people last offseason when they signed Ogbah to a four-year deal worth $65 million on the first day of the legal tampering period. Unfortunately, his 2022 was less than ideal, as he wasn’t having the same impact, and he suffered a torn tricep in Week 9, ending his season.

Moving on from Ogbah would be a bold decision, but the Dolphins could save roughly $11.19 million if they traded him before June 1, dropping his cap hit from $17.19 million to $6 million in dead cap.

(NOTE: If they waited until after June 1, they’d actually save $15.19 million.)

Trade WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. - save $6 million

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Miami signed Wilson before Hill became available, and when that trade was complete, he was bumped down to third on the depth chart. Then, he was surpassed by Trent Sherfield when the season started, so it only makes sense for the Dolphins to try and recoup something.

Trading Wilson away for a late draft pick could save them $6 million, as the cap hit would drop from $8 million to $2 million in dead cap. Plus, adding more draft capital in a year that they don’t have much always helps.

Release K Jason Sanders - save $3.78 million

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Sanders may have finished the season on a high note, making a game-winning field goal in Week 18 to send them to the postseason. However, that doesn’t excuse how poor he was throughout the year.

If Miami is willing to move on, according to Spotrac, they can release him with no dead cap, bringing his $3.78 million cap hit down to nothing.

Release TE Durham Smythe - save $3.49 million

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While Smythe was Miami’s top tight end option in 2022, that’s not exactly the ideal scenario going into a season. Mike Gesicki, Smythe’s best friend, is already on the market, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the former Fighting Irish join him.

Cutting Smythe would free up $3.49 million, dropping his cap hit from $4.24 million to $750,000.

Release CB Keion Crossen - save $3.16 million

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In another unfortunate twist, Crossen played a lot more cornerback than the team would’ve liked in 2022. He was signed to a three-year deal last offseason for his special teams ability, which is still great, but that’s a lot to pay for that role.

Miami could release Crossen and save the full $3.16 million cap hit with no dead cap penalty. If they truly want a talented gunner, they could re-sign him to a cheaper deal or re-sign Justin Bethel, who was strong last season as well.

Release TE Cethan Carter - save $1.82 million

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Speaking of special teams contributors, Carter is coming off of a season that was cut short due to serious concussion issues. He played just five total snaps in the season opener against the New England Patriots and was out for the rest of the season.

The Dolphins could certainly use the money and space to revamp the tight end room, and cutting Carter would save $1.82 million, dropping his $2.32 million cap hit to $500,000 in dead cap.

Optional: Extend DL Christian Wilkins

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This move is something that the Dolphins should do right away because of the impact that Wilkins brings both on and off the field. However, it wasn’t really included in the plan because it’s unclear how much they could save by extending him, as it would be determined by the type of contract that he got.

Essentially, they can roll his $10.75 million salary in 2023 into a signing bonus and spread that out over the life of a new contract, freeing up space.

(h/t former Dolphins Wire editor Kyle Crabbs for the idea)

Story originally appeared on Dolphins Wire