The Miami Dolphins are set to roll forward into another offseason of critical team building in 2021. With one of the youngest rosters in football and so many talents playing on rookie contracts, Miami has one of the most flexible cap situations in the league coming into this offseason. And that cap situation comes with a much needed boost in the form of an area Miami has struggled with over the course of the last two seasons — dead space against the salary cap.
The Dolphins’ current regime has spent much of the past two seasons paying for the sins of years and years of bad spending habits — Miami was forced to strip down their roster and hope to yield better results in the aftermath of freeing up their financial situation. We’ve reached that tipping point in 2021. Take a look at how Miami’s past two seasons of cap space committed to getting players off the roster has taken shape and compare it to the financials Miami is currently looking at headed into 2021:
Of course Miami’s decision making this spring will inflate this number. But it will be almost impossible to see Miami challenge these previous numbers — which frees up more spending power for Miami to target players who will, you know, actually play on the team. The Dolphins aren’t immune from parting with players who will eat up cap. But there will be no Ryan Tannehill ($18.4M) or Ndamukong Suh ($13.1M) sized hits against their cap.
As far as who Miami already has on the books for 2021?
Over The Cap charges Miami with just two significant, measurable hits. who account for dead cap space entering into the offseason:
Feb 29, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Boise State linebacker Curtis Weaver (LB41) goes through a workout drill during the 2020 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
DE Curtis Weaver
2021 dead Cap Hit: $$230,997
There will be Dolphins fans who wonder “what if” about this pick, as Miami traded up for Weaver only to cut him and expose him to the waiver wire during training camp. Miami clearly felt they had other players capable of filling the role — and we saw LB Andrew Van Ginkel do exactly that in 2020. A former 5th-round pick, Weaver spent the year in Cleveland on injured reserve.
Sep 29, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage (27) runs the ball as he gets tackle by Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Michael Davis (43) in the second quarter of a football game at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
RB Kalen Ballage
2021 Cap Hit: $147,295
While Dolphins fans may lament and wonder “what if” with Weaver, no one is missing Kalen Ballage. Ballage spent 2020 between the New York Jets and the Los Angeles Chargers and he set a career high in rushing with 303 yards on the season over 11 games. Ballage, who drew criticism during his time in Miami for his paltry rushing totals, will be in the past for Miami once his final lingering cap commitments clear the books in 2021.