The fallout of the NFL’s projected salary cap decrease has already begun as the Miami Dolphins are set to release veteran outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy after just one year into his four-year, $51 million deal signed last off-season unless they can find a trade partner for him prior to the start of the new league year on March 17.
The pending move comes as something of a surprise, given that the 29-year-old Van Noy had a productive season for Miami, recording six sacks and 10 QB hits and finishing third on the team with 69 tackles. But Miami apparently felt that the $9.8 million cap savings--$12.5 million if he’s designated a post-June 1 cut--was not a solid return on its investment.
Van Noy, in a statement, said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision.
What Went Wrong in Miami?
Besides the cap hit, here is what All Dolphins team publisher Alain Poupart had to say about the move:
Van Noy battled through a couple of injuries (hip, wrist) and ended up playing 14 games with 13 starts and had six sacks, although three of them came against the Cincinnati Bengals and their woeful offensive line.
While Van Noy’s performance in 2020 certainly could be classified as solid, it also would be a stretch to call him a difference-maker, and he actually might have been only the third-best linebacker on the team behind Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel.
The decision to move on from him, regardless of whether it comes via trade or he’s simply released, certainly was attention-grabbing because the Dolphins gave him a four-year contract last year and also because of his connection with Brian Flores from their time together in New England.
Should the Giants Make A Run at Him?
Now that the former New England Patriot, who before signing with the Dolphins had reportedly received interest from the Giants, is back on the market, should the Giants make another run at the outside linebacker?
The answer is yes.
The Giants are still months away from knowing for ceretain how ready to return youngsters Lorenzo Carter (Achilles) and Oshane Ximines (shoulder) are. They also have decisions to make on a pair of outside linebackers, Kyler Fackrell and Jabaal Sheard, who are set to become unrestricted free agents.
If Van Noy represents an upgrade over Fackrell and Sheard and second-year linebackers Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown, the Giants absolutely have to explore making this move happen.
Van Noy, who played in a hybrid scheme that mixed a 3-4 with a 4-3 front depending on the situation (similar to what the Giants run under Patrick Graham) has a career-high 6.5 sacks, set in 2019 with the Patriots.
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Last season, Van Noy finished second among linebackers (behind Demario Davis of the Saints) with 28 pass rush pressures from all positions.
He’s also a solid run defender whose 10 tackles for a loss last year were also a career high. Van Noy could potentially be an every-down player for the Giants and offer some additional firepower to a pass rush that despite finishing tied for 12th in sacks last year with 40, is believed to be seeking an upgrade.
The Giants, who should have enough cap space to do what they need to get done, aren’t expected to go crazy in free agency by throwing around loaded blockbuster deals encompassing multiple years. Rather, they’re projected to be planning several one- and two-year deals so that their salary cap situation doesn’t spiral out of control.
Unfortunately, Van Noy isn't going to get another contract similar to what the Dolphins gave him. If he's looking to get his feet back under him, then perhaps a two-year deal with sack incentives might be worth the investment on a player who is still very much a functional veteran and who can adapt to just about any scheme.
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