Dolphins lead NFL in 'dead money' against salary cap


It's been an interesting offseason for the Miami Dolphins, to say the least. The team is in the process of a major makeover for 2015, highlighted by the $114 million signing of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and the trade of former No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace to the Minnesota Vikings.

However, Miami took some major hits on its salary cap in the process of this offseason facelift. As a result, the Dolphins currently own the dubious distinction of leading the NFL in “dead money” following trades and roster cuts.

“Dead money” is essentially used salary-cap space for players who are no longer on the roster. The Dolphins have an NFL-high $23.699 million of this year’s cap allocated to players who will not help the team this season, according to ESPN.com’s Roster Management System.

Recent trades, such as the one sending Wallace to the Vikings and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to the New Orleans Saints, for example, have drastically inflated Miami’s “dead money.” Both were given large contracts in 2013. But Miami wanted to go in a different direction two years later and was willing to take the cap hit.

Additional veteran cuts such as linebacker Philip Wheeler, cornerback Cortland Finnegan, guard Shelley Smith and receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson also accelerated Miami’s “dead money” this offseason.

Despite the high number, new vice president Mike Tannenbuam remains aggressive this offseason and says the Dolphins’ cap situation will be fine moving forward.

“We’re very comfortable with our macroeconomic modeling for the next couple of years, where we think the cap’s going to be, allocation of resources,” Tannenbaum said. “To have sustainable success in a cap system, you’re going to have to hit on your draft choices. We want to retain as many of those as reasonably possible.”