Dolphins $37.5 Million Starter Identified as ‘Cut Candidate’

Dolphins' Jerome Baker identified as cut candidate in 2024.

Getty Miami Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker was named as a potential cut candidate in 2024.

As of February 17, the Miami Dolphins’ available cap space number has not moved. Over the Cap lists the amount at negative $51.898 million, which ranks second worst in the NFL ahead of the New Orleans Saints.

Needless to say, the Dolphins must start shedding salary — and fast with the new league year approaching in March. uSTADIUM identified linebacker Jerome Baker as one potential “cut candidate” on February 14.

According to Over the Cap, Miami can save $11.053 million by designating Baker as a post-June 1 release. The front office can also clear $9.82 million and change by cutting him and his $37.5 million contract prior to June 1.

Either way, that’s a big number that Dolphins general manager Chris Grier must at least be considering at the moment — along with veterans like edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah and cornerback Xavien Howard.

Sports Illustrated beat reporter Omar Kelly weighed the possibilities of Baker’s future for fans on January 22. “Release or restructure Jerome Baker?” Kelly debated.

“Baker’s in the same category as Howard,” he wrote. “The six-year starter is still a valuable leader, and an important contributor to Miami’s defense in 2023.”

Continuing: “The Dolphins have him under contract for $11.1 million, and get back $9.8 million if they release him outright. It’s possible that Baker, who contributed 72 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions in the 13 games he played in 2023, could re-sign for a deal comparable to the two-year, $10 million contract fellow inside linebacker David Long Jr. has, but Baker would probably prefer to test free agency for the first time before signing up for something like that.”

Kelly also noted that “complicating things might be his knee and wrist injury, which could impact him passing a physical in March.”

New Dolphins DC Anthony Weaver Didn’t Mention LB Jerome Baker During Introductory Press Conference

New Dolphins defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver addressed the media for the first time on February 15, and he named several Miami defenders that he expects to be a key part of his unit in 2024.

Those players were defensive tackle Zach Sieler, edge rushers Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips, defensive backs Jevon Holland and Jalen Ramsey, and the aforementioned Long. He also mentioned star defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, who is set to hit free agency in March.

Although Weaver made it clear that he was probably forgetting some players, he did not mention Baker.

That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, considering the former third-round selection has been pretty steady as a Dolphins starter since 2018. Having said that, it’s always nicer when you’re highlighted by a new coordinator or coach as an important asset moving forward.

Could Dolphins Re-Sign LB Jerome Baker at Later Date?

It feels like a Baker cut could be a foregone conclusion as Miami needs to create some cap space early on in the offseason. However, that does not preclude them from bringing back the linebacker at a later date — assuming he does not sign elsewhere in free agency.

Dolphins podcaster Neal Driscoll suggested this idea on X, initially presenting a plan to cut Baker prior to June 1 while also designating Howard as a post-June 1 release. Then, after June 1, Driscoll voiced that he “could see a Baker/Dolphins reunion for a fraction of the cost after June 1.”

“By releasing Howard, Miami would create $18.5m in cap space which would be available after June 1. They could use that to sign their draft class ($8m), resign Jerome Baker ($5m), and bring back OL Isaiah Wynn ($3m),” the podcaster hypothesized.

It’s a decent theory, and we should find out how this all plays out soon. The NFL’s new league year start date is set for March 13, while free agency’s legal tampering period begins on March 11.

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