The Miami Dolphins have completed their 2021 offseason training schedule, culminating in last week’s veterans minicamp. The only mandatory event for all players during the offseason, one of the main talking points throughout the week was the absence of cornerback Xavien Howard, who skipped the three-day event while ‘he was looking for a new contract. The discussion, rumors and speculation surrounding Howard will continue throughout the summer until something changes.
Will Howard land a new contract, despite having four seasons left on his current contract? Will the league leader in interceptions last year return without a new deal? Will Miami be forced to trade the 2020 All-Pro first team?
While Howard will be a much-discussed story over the next couple of months, several other players must also be considered for a new contract. According to the NFL Players Association, the Dolphins have $ 5.55 million in salary cap space as of June 21. The Dolphins must use that space to sign the remaining three unsigned draft picks, tackle Liam Eichenberg, safety Jevon Holland and tight end Hunter. Long, but they also need to consider some of their 2022 free agents for contract extensions.
The good news for the Dolphins – and the league – is that next season’s salary cap is expected to increase. The league and the NFLPA agreed in May on a salary cap of $ 208 million, well above this year’s cap of $ 182.5 million. The idea of the cap is to give players a way to repay debt incurred by players receiving their full salary last year, despite the lack of income in the stadium for matches played during the coronavirus pandemic. If the revenue generated is high enough that the cap exceeds $ 208 million, that extra money is counted against last year’s debt and will allow higher caps for years to come.
That’s a way of saying the Dolphins will have ceiling space in 2022. According to OverTheCap.com, the Dolphins will be fifth in the league in ceiling space available in 2022 with $ 55.3 million available. Some of that space will likely be used to re-sign some of their own players – although it will likely take contract creation work to create more space to cover signing bonuses.
Miami’s 2022 free agency list, again from OverTheCap.com, includes:
Will Fuller, wide receiver
Emmanuel Ogbah, edge
Jacoby Brissett, quarterback
Albert Wilson, wide receiver
Justin Coleman, cornerback
Elandon Roberts, linebacker
Malcolm Brown, running back
Matt Skura, center
Mike Gesicki, tight end
Michael Palardy, punter
Jason McCourty, defensive back
John Jenkins, defensive tackle
Brennan Scarlett, linebacker
Duke Reilly, linebacker
Jermaine Eluemunor, guard / tackle
Mack Hollins, wide receiver
DJ Flucker, guard / tackle
Adam Pankey, guard / tackle
Robert Foster, wide receiver
Vince Biegel, linebacker
Cameron Tom, center
Calvin Munson, linebacker (RFA)
Jamal Perry, cornerback (RFA)
Nik Needham, cornerback (RFA)
Durham Smythe, tight end
Benito Jones, defensive tackle (ERFA)
Nate Holley, Security (ERFA)
Salvon Ahmed, running back (ERFA)
Jonathan Ledbetter, defensive end (ERFA)
Preston Williams, wide receiver (RFA)
Patrick Laird, ball carrier (RFA)
Sam Eguavoen, linebacker (RFA)
Obviously, some of those players have signed one-year contracts this offseason, so their status for 2022 depends on how well they perform this year. There is no pressing need for extension discussions this summer. There are, however, a few that should be taken into consideration:
Mike Gesicki – Gesicki is likely leading the way in the group of players whose contracts expire and need to be extended. He’s not known outside of South Florida, but analysts all seem to agree he’s poised to be one of the best tight ends in the league. In three seasons, Gesicki has totaled 126 receptions for 1,475 yards with 11 touchdowns. After a bizarre rookie year where he’s been asked to be primarily a blocking winger, despite a pre-draft analysis indicating his weakness as a blocker, Gesicki is emerging as a tight winger who can be the big-bodied target of the red zone each team needs. Gesicki should definitely be extended by the Dolphins, and they may want to try to do so this summer before he has the chance to post some garish numbers in the season.
Elandon Roberts – Roberts joined the Dolphins last year, appearing in 13 games with 11 starts. He totaled 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He’s coming back from a knee injury, so there’s some hesitation in making sure he’s 100% back before making a new deal, but there’s a reason Miami signed him to. a second one-year contract without needing him to pass a physical first. He’s exactly the player and leader that head coach Brian Flores wants in defense. Keeping him in Miami, paired with Jerome Baker who just signed a contract extension, makes a lot of sense for the Dolphins.
Will Fuller – It may be too early, but the Dolphins could consider signing a contract extension with Fuller, both to ensure the 27-year-old receiver doesn’t leave Miami in the spring and to lower his salary cap by 10. , $ 6 million for this season. If Fuller is going to be part of a dynamic receiving corps alongside DeVante Parker and rookie Jaylen Waddle, keeping him longer than this season could be a necessity for the Dolphins. Fuller’s signing for an extension could be a discussion once the team determines exactly what they have in COVID-19 2020 exclusions Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns, both of whom return this year.
Durham Smythe – Smythe is emerging as a solid tight end and complimented Gesicki well last year. The coaching staff seem to really like Smythe, who has been listed as the starter on the depths board for much of the season, and he absolutely has a role to play at the club. The question becomes, does rookie Hunter Long eclipse Smythe and replace him as a versatile tight end?
Restricted / Exclusive Royalty Free Agents that could be considered for long term extensions – The Dolphins don’t really need to budge with some of their young players who will have contracts expiring next spring as the players don’t have enough service time yet to qualify as a free agent without restriction. While most likely only making offers on these players, they might also consider looking for long term stability for players like Jamal Perry, Nik Needham, Salvon Ahmed, Preston Williams and Sam Eguavoen.
Who would you be looking to lock up in the long term?