The offseason madness has officially begun. If you thought the biggest domino for the Dolphins in the dead period before the start of the league calendar year was the release of Kyle Van Noy, think again — ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported this afternoon that the Miami Dolphins will be trading OLB/DE Shaq Lawson to the Houston Texans for ILB Bernardrick McKinney and a swap of late round selections. This doesn’t necessarily qualify as a blockbuster trade, but yet it is a major move involving yet another member of the Miami Dolphins’ 2020 free agency class.
The financial implications for the Dolphins are a net break even against the salary cap — the Dolphins will pay McKinney $7.2M in 2021 for his services while taking on a $2.67M dead cap hit for the trade of Lawson, equalling nearly to the exact dollar amount the $9.83M cap hit that Lawson was scheduled to bring on in 2021. And, with a breakeven dollar amount, the Dolphins are able to check one of their critical boxes on the defensive side of the football: a between the tackles run stuffer that the team has been sorely lacking.
Miami filled the void left behind by the trade of Raekwon McMillan last summer with veteran linebacker Elandon Roberts, but Roberts was limited in coverage, struggled in space and suffered an injury to end his season prematurely. To boot, Roberts is an unrestricted free agent.
In McKinney, the Dolphins secure a player that they will have three years of contractual obligations from — and no guaranteed signing bonus figures that would lock the team into a cap commitment that they’re uncomfortable with.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for the Dolphins, who clearly aren’t resting on their laurels defensively despite a much improved unit in 2020. We’ll see what else the coming days bring.