Before free agency began, the Dolphins wouldn’t have been a popular choice for this year’s offseason champions. Miami’s cap was still riddled with the sins of its last spending spree, when it gave a combined $69.5 million guaranteed to Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, and Philip Wheeler in 2013. By early March, foreseeable cost-cutting moves put all of those players on borrowed time in Miami, but with the resulting dead money and the other substantial deals still on the Dolphins’ books, it seemed like teams flush with cap space would be more likely to make a big splash.
Two weeks later, only the Eagles have made more headlines than the Dolphins. Miami emerged as the dark horse for Ndamukong Suh and eventually coaxed him to Florida and its welcoming lack of income tax with a massive contract that features $60 million in guarantees. After two joyless years, the Dolphins dealt Wallace to the Vikings, but only after bringing in former Saints receiver Kenny Stills for Ellerbe and a third-round pick. Miami — in ways both quiet and loud — has reshaped its roster in the hope that it can turn last year’s fringe playoff contender into a team fit for the postseason. Most of their moves should help in that pursuit, but by attacking their needs for this season, the Dolphins’ future has turned even murkier than it was before.
The writer explains in detail the positive impact Suh's presence will have on the defense but then shifts to the negative ramifications he thinks the signing will have on resigning our ever polarizing starting QB...
Miami is facing a decision with Tannehill that it has to make by the first week in May. It’s not likely that the Dolphins will let Tannehill play out the final year of his deal, so they can either exercise the fifth-year option in his rookie contract or sign him to a long-term extension. The option would pay Tannehill about $15 million in 2016. Then factor in Suh’s deal. To get Miami under the cap this season, Suh’s cap figure is a paltry $6.1 million. That means that next season, Suh will count for $28.6 million against the cap — the highest figure in the league. The Dolphins can always restructure the deal a bit to save some money, but Suh’s cap figures in the seasons to come aren’t exactly small.
If Miami does choose to use the option on Tannehill, it means nearly $44 million of its cap would be dedicated to two players. Giving Tannehill a long-term deal would allow the Dolphins to drive his year-one figure down to help offset Suh’s huge price tag. Again, dominoes.
This is the consequence of Miami’s plan. Any team would be lucky to have Suh on its roster. But the premium the Dolphins paid for him is complicating every aspect of how they can build the rest of their roster. This is a reality of modern-day salary-cap sleight of hand. With Suh, a reshuffled deck of receivers, and perhaps even Mathis, Miami would be well positioned to make a run at the playoffs this fall, but likely not much beyond 2016. Then the hard decisions will begin all over again, and the front office will need to line up the dominoes all over again.