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How much cap space do the Miami Dolphins have in 2021?

We break down the projected available cap space in 2021 for the Dolphins and notable contract situations.

Xavien Howard #25, Nik Needham #40, and Jerome Baker #55 of the Miami Dolphins celebrate and interception against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on December 13, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Salary cap space

As of March 17, 2021, the Dolphins are projected to have $33,173,936 in cap space for 2021.

The Dolphins rolled over $15.2 million in 2020 cap space.

March 10 update: The salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.

The Miami Dolphins experienced a dispiriting end to their 2020 season as losses in the final two weeks of the regular season left them just on the outside of the playoffs. However, there are plenty of reasons for optimism following this 10-6 season. They seem to have found the quarterback of their future in Tua Tagovailoa. Now the front office is tasked with giving him enough weapons to reach his potential. They will have plenty of money and picks to accomplish that.

Only six teams have more cap space entering this offseason than the Dolphins. Much of that money will likely be spent improving the offense. But Miami may also need room to appease star cornerback Xavien Howard, who is reportedly angling for a big-money deal just two years into a five-year, $75 million contract.

The NFL powered through its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The league played without fans in most stadiums, and limited fans in a handful of locations. The decrease in gate revenue is going to result in a decrease in money shared between the 32 teams. This in turn means the salary cap is expected to decrease. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a salary cap of no lower than $175 million. The latest report has the number landing between $180 and $181 million, which is a good bit lower than the $198.2 million of this past season. This will result in some tough choices for many teams.

All salary cap information below comes courtesy of the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report.

Notable contracts

If the Dolphins want to free up some extra cash for Howard, they could try to trade offensive tackle Ereck Flowers this spring, which would save $8 million and leave behind just $2 million in dead money. Howard is under contract through 2024 and is currently the sixth-highest-paid corner in the league. But he has no guaranteed money left on his current pact and reportedly wants a new deal. Miami fielded trade offers for him recently and although a trade this spring would open up $9.3 million, it won’t part with a top-notch corner who had a league-high 10 interceptions in 2020 without getting a huge return.

The Dolphins aren’t losing much in free agency either; backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stands to be the most costly departure right now, and he made just $5.5 million this season. The Dolphins will use their financial flexibility and their draft picks — four in the top 60, including No. 3 overall from the Texans — to address holes at wide receiver, offensive line and defensive line. Players such as defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and tight end Mike Gesicki have one year left on their current contracts and could be extension candidates.

The Dolphins don’t have a fifth-year-option player on their roster.