When Brian Flores signed his contract to become head coach ahead of the 2019 season, it was hailed as a big moment for the Miami Dolphins franchise. However, as we head towards the midway point of that contract, Flores’ future with the Dolphins is being questioned, especially because of the slow start to the 2021 season. Let’s take a look at Flores’ contract and salary, as well as what it would cost the Dolphins to move on.
Update: Brian Flores was fired as the Miami Dolphins head coach following the 2021-2022 NFL season. Keep up to date with all the head coach firings with the Black Monday NFL tracker.
Note: The salary reported in this article is not an official number reported by the Dolphins or the NFL. The number is reported on a number of sites but has not been officially confirmed.
Brian Flores signed a five-year contract with a fully guaranteed salary
In 2019, the Dolphins were in a tough situation. Coming off a 7-9 season, they made the decision to move on from Adam Gase and embark on a new era. The head coach they chose to sign was then-New England Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores.
The hiring was viewed as a somewhat understated hire, with bigger names available on the market. However, Flores was the only head coach in the 2019 hiring cycle to receive a fully-guaranteed five-year contract. The majority of the other head coaches hired at that time received a four-year deal with a team option for the fifth year.
However, while that sounds great as the headline, and looks as though Stephen Ross was committing a lot to his new head coach, there may be more than meets the eye.
There are differing reports regarding Brian Flores’ salary — is it one of the lowest of any head coaches in the NFL?
Generally, NFL head coach salaries are not widely known. There is also more that goes into the deal than any reported salary. Teams will often include other bonuses, etc. that are not stated explicitly in the deal.
And from what we know of NFL head coach salaries in 2021, only one — Matt Nagy — earns less per year than Flores does on his contract. Flores reportedly earns just $500,000 per year as the Dolphins’ head coach according to some sources, including Sportscriber.
However, a report from NBC Chicago places Flores salary at around $3 million. One source tells PFN they believe Flores makes much more than the $500,000 number – as much as several million per year. There is the possibility that both numbers are true. Flores may have a “base salary” of $500,000, with incentives and other guarantees built-in on top of that that take the number into the $3 million range.
To put those numbers in some context, the next lowest-paid head coaches whose salaries are publicly reported are Kyle Shanahan and Mike Vrabel at around $3.5 million per year. Therefore, if the $500,000 number is correct, over the course of a fully-guaranteed five-year contract, Flores would earn less salary than Shanahan and Vrabel earn in a single season.
To provide further context, Bill Belichick reportedly earns around $12.5 million a year as the highest-paid head coach. These numbers thus make it seem highly unlikely that Flores earns $500,000 per year and is more likely in the ‘several million’ range that was told to PFN.
How long does Flores have remaining on his contract?
2021 is the third year that Flores has been under contract. Therefore, including this season, Flores has three years remaining on his contract, which is due to expire after the 2023 NFL season.
How much will Flores’ contract cost if the Dolphins fire him?
This is where Stephen Ross has been extremely clever if Flores’ reported salary of $500,000 is, in fact, correct. When this deal was signed, Dolphins writers waxed lyrical about the great faith Ross had demonstrated in Flores by fully-guaranteeing a five-year contract.
However, if Flores was to be fired during the 2021 season, it would potentially only cost Ross between $1-1.5 million on top of what he has already paid Flores. When you consider what the likes of Joe Judge earn (a reported $5 million), Ross is not going to be losing any sleep over the cost of firing Flores if he’s not getting the job done.
Even if Flores’ salary is the higher of the two values reported at $3 million, the Dolphins would only have around $7.5 to 9 million to pay out if they fired him. In the grand scheme of an NFL franchise, those numbers are relatively small. However, the decision at a reported $3 million per year might be a little tougher than if the $500,000 report is correct.
At the start of the season, Ross sent out a clear warning to the Dolphins’ front office and head coach. When he opened their new facility ahead of training camp, he made it very clear that expectations were high for this team. He even “joked” about them winning a Super Bowl.
Entering Year 3 of the rebuild, and coming off a promising 2020, the message was clear. At 81, the Dolphins owner’s patience is nearing an end. With limited expense involved in the firing of Flores, we could be nearing the end of his time leading the Dolphins franchise.