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The NFL is bracing for the opening of the 2021 offseason in approximately one month’s time. And over that stretch, you’ll see teams angling for more flexibility against a yet to be determined salary cap. There will be cuts and restructures aplenty; the Miami Dolphins included. But how each team manipulates the cap to find extra spending power is dependent on their own spending trends of the past — and Miami has purged much of the dead weight off their roster as a part of this two-year rebuilding effort.
The Dolphins have some plays who figure to no longer be a piece of the puzzle moving forward and the team will likely move on from them sooner rather than later to have as much cap space as possible to tackle free agent additions. But do the Dolphins have any significant headway to be made by restructuring existing deals?
A good example from elsewhere in the league. The Green Bay Packers restructured tackle David Bakhtiari’s roster bonus to classify the $11M he was due as a signing bonus — allowing the team to prorate that money over the life of his contract instead of paying it all against the cap up front in 2021. The move added over $8M to the Packers’ salary cap.
While the Dolphins do have some roster bonuses due, they have nothing like what the Packers were on the books for with their star left tackle. Miami, in total, owes players $6,359,281 in roster bonuses according to Spotrac.com; although the cutoff date for payouts is not specified on the site. And no player is owed more than $2M in a roster bonus (DB Eric Rowe) in 2021; meaning the roster bonuses due are a few hundred thousand here and a few hundred thousand there; cutting any number of those figures in half by converting them to signing bonuses is going to do very little, if anything, to boost Miami’s cap situation.
Some players, like Clayton Fejedelem ($203,125 roster bonus) may end up being cut before the start of free agency. But the Dolphins won’t have the luxury of manufacturing any significant cap space by shuffling around roster bonuses this winter.