DAVIE—There’s no disputing Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is among the best players in the game at any position. There’s not even much argument against him being worth the $114 million deal Miami gave him three years ago.
The real issue is whether a Dolphins team that needs several upgrades can afford that luxury.
As they move into 2018 planning, the $26.1 million salary cap hit for Suh is going to be an obstacle. If they restructure with him, spreading his guaranteed money out over more years. Suh agreed to redo his deal once already, doing so in early 2016.
“We really haven’t gotten towards the salary cap yet,” vice president Mike Tannenbaum said when asked about reworking Suh’s deal. “In a perfect world, we try to give ourselves as much flexibility as possible. We’re going to sit down and look at all of our players and figure out what makes sense for us. Some situations, we may have a little bit more flexibility than others.”
According to Spotrac’s calculations, the Dolphins currently have the fourth-lowest salary cap space for 2018. They’ll be able to add, though, by making some personnel moves in the coming months.
Even by letting go of some high-priced veterans, though, Miami faces the financial challenge of re-signing Jarvis Landry, any outside free agents at positions of need, several important role players who are hitting unrestricted free agency and possibly an established backup for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Restructuring Suh’s contract might sound simple, but it takes two sides working together to get something like that done. He could insist upon a bump in total guaranteed money to agree to that.
When asked whether Suh has been a cooperative partner, Tannenbaum steered the topic toward how he’s contributed as a player.
“He’s been a pro,” Tannenbaum said. “He’s played well. He helped us win a bunch of games, helped us get to the playoffs a year ago. He’s played well for us, and again, we’ll evaluate each player, their salary and what flexibility we have.
“I appreciate everything he’s done. He’s a hard-worker, does everything he’s asked and he does extra in terms of preparing himself for games; but like I said, we’re 72 hours out after our last game and we have a lot of work to do to evaluate everybody.”
In three seasons with Miami, Suh has 180 tackles, 15.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He has played all 48 possible games and been on the field for at least 83 percent of the defensive snaps every season. Pro Football Focus ranked him in the top four at his position each of his three years with the Dolphins.
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