I'm not trying to inflame, I'm trying to educate
Obviously, there has been increased interest since the ESPN article by Len P. He has the Fins, through NFLPA documents, at $93.94 million. I've increased my original 2004 cap estimate to $80 million because my previous estimate of $77.5 million appears to be lacking the increase due to the DirecTV deal from earlier this year. That would place Miami $13.94 million OVER.
However, I do not believe that number takes into account the following:
1) 2003 draft choices: it appears that the amortization/other bonuses for the Fins 2003 draft choices can be no more than $757,469 in 2003 (all players will sign for at least 3 yrs). Miami's 2003 rookie pool is $2,782,469. Miami drafted 9 players and if you take the minimum salary for rookies of $225,000 and multiply by 9 you get $2.025 million. Subtract and you get $757,469. 5th rd pick, TE D. Lee, has $33,250 bonus amortization and 6th rd pick DB/LB Jenkins has $24,964. That equals $58,214, thus leaving $699,255 for the remaining 2003 picks. (NOTE: The UDFAs count $37,500 in each 2003 and 2004 and I'm not sure if that amount counts under the rookie cap. If it does, subtract and you get $661,755 remaining for 7 picks). Rest assured, I'll use $757,469 for both 2003 and 2004 because it's likely all 9 picks will be receiving the minimum salaries. It very likely that amortization/other bonuses will be higher in 2004 due to the inclusion of roster bonuses/option payments in order to be rookie cap compliant. Another point, 6th rd pick, DB Y. Bell, will not likely get a signing bonus since he's likely to be put on the PUP, but that basically makes his $225,000 rookie salary guaranteed. He will likely get a roster bonus in 2004. This increases the cap charge for 2004
2) Top 51 rule: I believe that the $93.94 million takes into account ALL players under contract for 2004, not just the top 51. I'll address this below. This decreases the cap charge for 2004
3)Option payments: Tim Bowens is due a $1.8 million option payment. Until the Fins pay the option, it counts $1.8 million on the 2004 cap, but once paid, it's amortized over the remaining 3 yrs of his deal at $600,000/season. Paying the bonus frees up $1.2 million. This decreases the cap charge for 2004
As of 6/29/03, I have Miami $2.471 million under an adjusted cap of $75,092,713 (Miami received a NLTBE "credit" of $85,713). That takes into account ALL DRAFT CHOICES with projected signing bonuses estimated using both 2002 & 2003 signing bonuses. I have projected a 53 roster that takes the future cap situation into account. Yes, this a crucial factor in the make-up of the final 53 man roster.
53 man roster
RB(4): R. Williams,Minor,Edwards,Rogers(KR)
FB(2): Konrad, Ayanbadejo
TE(3): McMichael,Battaglia,D. Lee
DE(5): Taylor,Ogunleye,J. Williams,D. Bowens,L.Williams
DT(4): T. Bowens,Chester,Zgonina,Burnett(DE)
OLB(4): Seau,Greenwood,E. Moore,Jenkins
PS: WR Tolver, OT Provost, DT D. Williams, LB Hardmon, WR Bellamy
PUP: OL Nails, DB Y. Bell
Salary cap with 53 man roster, full 5 man PS, and PUP players as listed above:
The above roster would leave you $5,814,900 under the adjusted cap of $75,092713. This includes $59,676,731 for salaries and bonuses, $8,816,082 for "2003 dead cap", and $425,000 allocated for the practice squad
Noticeable cuts to create 2003 cap space:
McKnight($1.5 million), Dyer($450,000), Wooden($530,000), Royals($450,000), and McGarrahan($530,000). Together they saved $3.46 million on the 2003 cap and with Dyer & McKnight releases, it would save $2.45 million on the 2004 cap.
Why I projected this!
Miami could use some of the 2003 cap space to re-sign players such as DE Ogunleye and OT Wade to long term deals and structure those deals to put the lowest cap number in 2004.
Miami obviously has a tight cap situation in 2004. Whether it translates to "cap jail" is yet to be seen and will be based upon how the NLTBE's end up. Fins FO signed a number of players to incentive laden deals that can greatly increase with playing performance(RW, D. Bowens, Fielder, Griese, Dixon, and a few others).
Now taking the above roster of 60 players, you must remove the following because they become FAs:
UFA: FB Ayanbajedo, TE Battaglia, CB Buckley, DL Burnett, DB Freeman, WR Gadsden, LB Hendricks, OL Nails, KR Rogers, and OT Wade
RFA: OL Andrew, RB Edwards, LB Greenwood, RB Minor, DE Ogunleye, and QB Rosenfels
EFA: WR Baker, OL Jerman, LB Seaverins, and P Stemke
I will assume that the Fins re-sign all practice squad players to standard minimum deals.
That would leave Fins with 45 players and the salary cap in 2004 looks different but remember that 15 players are at various FA statuses.
With 45 players signed, Miami would be $3,178,005 OVER.
I will assume the following:
1) Tim Bowens receives the $1.8 million option payment and that lowers his 2004 cap number by $1.2 million.
2) All RFAs and EFAs are tendered at the minimum. In 2003, that would be $605,000 for RFA and $375,000 for EFA. The only exception: DE Ogunleye. He would likely get a 1st rd tender that was $1.318 million in 2003. **See below for more on Ogunleye
These tenders amount to $665,500 and $412,500 respectively.
Tenders cap hit=(5 RFAs X $665,500) + (4 EFAs X $412,500) + $1.45 million(OGUN)=$6.4275 million)
These moves give ya 55 players under contract and with only top 51 salaries, $8,405,505 million OVER
**Ogunleye: As stated above, I'll broach the idea that since the 1 yr tender is nearly $1.5 million, Fins could re-sign him in 2003 to long term deal and front load it into 2003. His cap hit in 2004 could very close to the tender amount because as a RFA, his minumum salary would be only $500,000 and he could have as much as $950,000 bonus(of any type) and basically break even BUT you would already have him signed long term (at least 3 or 4 yrs) and some of that deal would be on the 2003 cap, which, of course helps the long term cap situation**
Thus, the $1.45 million cap hit for 2004 will be used for the purpose of the post
Next move is obvious: Resolve the QB situation. Who the FO picks is anyone's guess, but I'll highlight both cap situations
Fiedler: His cap charge for 2004 is presently $7.577 million. He has a $2 million bonus that activates the 2006 season. His salaries are $3.7 million(2004), $5.775 million(2005), and $6.5 million(2006). His bonus amortizations are approx. $1.877 million/season. His release saves $7.577 million - (3 X $1.877 million)= $1.946 million.
Griese: His cap charge is $6.997 million but could go higher with various playing time incentives. He has a $5.935 million roster bonus(if paid, it would count $5.935 million). As already widely speculated, this is designed to force his release or extension. If released he saves: $6.47 million
This will be the defining move prior to the 2004 FA season just like Zach Thomas' extension was in 2003
How the QB situation is resolved and how the NLTBE's impact 2004 will determine the extent of the "cap jail"
****still working on this, please come back for more on Monday ****