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Miami Dolphins surprisingly release All-Pro player despite NFL salary cap being at new all-time high

Miami Dolphins
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier on Friday, the NFL revealed a new record-high salary cap of $255.4 million in 2024, an unprecedented $30 million increase over last year. This news will undoubtedly have a major impact on how teams build their rosters, including the Miami Dolphins.

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Yet, despite the Dolphins and the other 31 teams getting a boost in spending space, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to retain all the talent on the roster. We’re already seeing that play out ahead of free agency.

Xavien Howard released from Miami Dolphins after eight seasons

xavien howard
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

On the same day we learned of the new NFL-record salary cap, the Miami Dolphins also revealed that they’ll be releasing former All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard was the 38th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he started 99 out of the 100 games he appeared in for the Dolphins, becoming a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

Yet, Howard also had a $25.9 million cap hit in 2024 as part of the five-year, $90 million extension signed back in April of 2022.

The move offers $18.5 million in cap savings for the Dolphins while also incurring a $7.4 million cap penalty in 2024 and a $15.7M penalty in 2025. Since the Dolphins are expected to designate Howard as a post-June 1 cap casualty, they won’t be able to use their $18 million in savings until June 2.

Howard joins a long list of free agents, but as NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo stated, the 30-year-old is expected to receive “significant” interest on the open market. Howard finished the 2023 season with a below-average 55.1 grade per Pro Football Focus.

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