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Salary Cap Set: Where That Leaves the Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins rank in the top 10 in the NFL in terms of cap space heading into the start of the 2021 league year

The NFL finalized the 2021 salary cap, with the number coming at $182.5 million, though it's not quite as simple.

For example, the Dolphins will find themselves with a salary cap of $197 million because the final number adds the carryover cap space from last season and deducts dead cap space.

And the Dolphins fared well in both instances.

First off, the Dolphins' $197 million cap is tied for ninth-highest in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, according to spotrac.

In terms of cap carryover from 2020, the Dolphins again came in ninth in the NFL, this time at $15.2 million (Cleveland had the most carryover at $30.4 million.

Then we get to dead cap space, where the Dolphins rank third-lowest in the entire NFL with only $490,085, according to overthecap.com. That money is signing bonuses given on rookie contracts to 2018 fourth-round pick Kalen Ballage and 2020 fifth-round selection Curtis Weaver, who was waived in training camp.

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The only teams with less dead cap money than the Dolphins are the Los Angeles Chargers ($58,009) and the Indianapolis Colts ($237,143).

In the final tally of NFL cap space + plus carryover - dead cap space, the Dolphins are left with a little less than $33.1 million heading into the 2021 league year. The figure comes without Kyle Van Noy on the Dolphins books based on the reports they'll be moving on from him, though no official transaction has taken place yet.

That represents the eighth-highest total in the NFL, according to spotrac, but is very far from the top spot, occupied by Jacksonville with $70.2 million, followed by AFC East opponents New England ($70.1 million) and the Jets ($69.9 million).

Ten teams were over the salary cap as of Wednesday morning and will need to become cap-compliant by the start of the new league year.

The Dolphins, like every other team, could create additional space before or after March 17 either by releasing players or restructuring contracts.

Not counting Van Noy, the Dolphins have four players scheduled to count $10 million or more against the cap in 2021, led by cornerback Byron Jones at $16.1 million. The others are CB Xavien Howard ($13.5 million), WR DeVante Parker ($12 million) and G Ereck Flowers ($10 million).