The Miami Dolphins have restructured the massive contract of defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, the team confirmed on Saturday. Suh was set to take up a whopping $28.6 million of cap space in 2016, the second-highest cap number for any player at the start of the 2015-16 offseason.
The Dolphins exercised a built-in option on Suh's contract, freeing up around $15 million in cap space for 2016. They have also restructured linebacker Koa Misi and released wide receiver Greg Jennings, creating around $23.8 million in cap savings.
Because of his enormous cap hit, Suh was an obvious candidate to have his contract re-worked in order to help Miami gain cap space and improve the team. In fact, you probably could have seen this coming last year when he originally signed his record-breaking six-year, $114 million deal with the Dolphins, and even general manager Mike Tannenbaum hinted at the move in January.
Miami gave the defensive superstar a huge $25.5 million signing bonus in 2015, which allowed them to guarantee a cheap base salary for last season ($985,000). But now that the bonus is paid, the massive annual salaries start to kick in each year -- he is set to earn $23.485 million in 2016 -- and it becomes increasingly difficult to manage his cap number. His 2016 and 2017 salaries are guaranteed, so that made cutting Suh a non-starter.
Suh's first season in Miami would probably be considered an underwhelming one given the incredibly high expectations of playing on a nine-figure contract and the largest ever given to a defensive player, yet the reality is that he remains one of the elite defensive tackles in the league.
He was ranked as the sixth-best interior defender by Pro Football Focus, compiling 6.0 sacks and 61 stops in 16 games. Suh was his usual disruptive force in the backfield for the Dolphins. Among defensive tackles, his 20 quarterback hits were tied for third-most and his 17 tackles for loss were second-most in the NFL.
Still, the Dolphins stumbled to a disappointing 6-10 record and last-place finish in the AFC East in 2015. Miami now needs to put the cap savings from Suh's restructure to good use and upgrade a roster that performed well-below average on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins were ranked 26th in total offense and 25th in total defense.
* * *
NFL Draft: How every team can avoid screwing up in the 1st round
Be sure to subscribe to SB Nation's YouTube channel for highlight videos, features, analysis and more