ORLANDO—Putting a league-record $22.2 million in dead salary cap money on the books eventually would never be part of a team’s long-term plan. Considering the Dolphins just absorbed that hit by cutting Ndamukong Suh three seasons into a six-year deal, it’s clear something went sideways.
Miami originally signed Suh to $114 million deal with $60 million guaranteed in the 2015 offseason, marking the largest contract ever for a defensive player. That deal was restructured the following year, though, because Suh was set for an untenable $28.6 million cap hit that season.
One of those two moves must be a regret for the Dolphins, but vice president Mike Tannenbaum didn’t want to discuss that this morning at the NFL’s annual meeting.
“Ndamukong gave us three years, and obviously we wish we won more games with him,” said Tannenbaum, who took his current post in February 2015. “Our charge is to try to put a competitive team on the field each year and try to create as much flexibility as possible. I’m comfortable with where we are with our long-term plan.
“We put ourselves in position to go out and get somebody like Robert Quinn, which was an unexpected opportunity. We’ve planned for cap charges appropriately over the next couple of years. We try to maintain as much flexibility as possible.”
When pressed a second time on whether he mishandled Suh’s contract situation, Tannenbaum said, “I wish we had won more games with him. He was a good player. We just made the decision that it was time to move on.”
Suh put up 181 tackles, 15.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in three years with the Dolphins. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and was voted team MVP last year.
He signed a one-year deal with the Rams this week to join Aaron Donald to form decisively the best defensive tackle combination in the NFL.
The upside in cutting Suh was that it frees up $17.1 million of the $26.1 million cap number he was scheduled to cost the Dolphins. That space becomes available to them in June.
The big-name free agents have already been signed this month, but Miami is prepared to go after anyone who becomes available at that point.
“We still have some pieces to add,” coach Adam Gase said. “We’re looking really to kind of see how it plays out. We’ll see what goes on after talking with other teams in the league. You just never know who else is going to shake free from now until the start of the season.”
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