The NFL offseason is a time of uncertainty for many teams. Players and coaches rotate in and out, and teams can look drastically different in just a short time. While many players and coaches leave on their own volition, sometimes, teams will have to make difficult choices and let them go. The Miami Dolphins will be one of them.

One of the main reasons why they do so, at least on the player side, is due to the salary cap. The salary cap helps to level the playing field between teams, which is definitely a good thing. However, it also forces teams to move on from important players, which is definitely a bad thing for fans and general managers alike.

This offseason in particular will be a challenge for many teams, as nearly half of the league is over the salary cap. These teams, and potentially more as they sign new contracts, will have to make some tough decisions when it comes to roster cuts. Among those teams are the Dolphins, who are facing one of the most interesting offseasons of any team.

Miami broke its playoff drought by finishing 9-8 this season but lost to the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round. While Tua Tagovailoa showed great strides this year, his injury history has led to questions about his future. On top of that, the Dolphins are also about $13 million over the salary cap and need to get under it.

To do so, the Dolphins may have to part ways with some of their highest-earning players. One such player is cornerback Byron Jones, who didn’t play this season and the Dolphins would save big by cutting him after June 1. However, there’s another potential cut candidate who would be a much greater surprise.

Dolphins surprise cut candidate: LB Jerome Baker

Jerome Baker has quietly developed into a solid player for Miami’s defense. In five seasons, he has racked up 509 tackles, 21 sacks, six forced fumbles, and three interceptions. More importantly, he has played in every game but one over that time, so he’s plenty dependable.

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So, why would the Dolphins get rid of a solid and reliable player like Baker? Well, it all comes back to our good friend, the salary cap.

Baker has the sixth-highest cap hit of any Dolphin at roughly $12.8 million. Now it may sound like cutting him may be enough to get the team back under the cap by itself, but it’s not that simple. Thanks to dead cap hits, Miami will only save just over $4 million by cutting Baker. However, those savings would jump to over $9 million if the team cuts him after June 1.

That said, cutting Baker isn’t the Dolphins’ only option here. They would get the exact same benefits if they traded him instead, and could get some assets back. Baker is only 26 and still has plenty of upside, so it could be a compelling option for both sides.

There’s also the chance that new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio doesn’t see Baker as a fit in his system. Some have claimed that he may not fit in, and are already calling him a goner. That said, the only person who knows that for sure is Fangio himself.

Losing Baker would be a blow to the Dolphins’ defense, but it may be necessary. Even if Miami does cut him, he shouldn’t have much trouble finding a new team.