What the Miami Dolphins Should Do Next With Terron Armstead

Miami Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead is reportedly planning to return for a 12th NFL season. But do the Dolphins want him back at his current contract?

Terron Armstead is evidently going to give it another go in 2024. The Miami Dolphins‘ Pro Bowl left tackle has decided against retirement, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Armstead promised at the Pro Bowl earlier this month that he’s “not going to prolong the process at all,” and he seems to have stayed true to that pledge. Speaking to Pro Football Network at Super Bowl Radio Row in Las Vegas, Armstead further affirmed that and said he was “going to listen to his body and see.”

But that’s not the last word on Armstead returning to the Dolphins in 2024. The ball is now in general manager Chris Grier’s court, and it’s unclear what he’ll do with it.

Will Terron Armstead Return to Miami Dolphins in 2024?

Now that Armstead has made his decision, the Dolphins must grapple with two of their own:

  1. Do they want Armstead back in 2024?
  2. At what price?

On the surface, it seems to be a no-brainer. Armstead and right tackle Austin Jackson are the only Dolphins starting linemen from 2023 currently under contract in 2024.

Center Connor Williams, right guard Robert Hunt, and left guard Isaiah Wynn are all free agents. So having Armstead back would give Grier a big leg up as he spends the next three months rebuilding an offensive line that still wasn’t great last year.

But what good is having Armstead on the roster if he’s not dependably available? Injuries have kept him out of 11 of a possible 36 games since he signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Dolphins two years ago next month.

In 2023 alone, Armstead received medical treatment for back, ankle, knee, and quad injuries. And there’s little reason to believe the chronically injured lineman will suddenly become the picture of health after turning 33 the week training camp begins.

“I got a ways to go, man,” Armstead said last month. “I dealt with a lot this year, probably one of the most challenging years that I had.

“But I think I found my stride and found my formula late in the season. I think the last six weeks, I was able to move better, play the way that I was accustomed to playing, and you know, really started to catch my stride, get in midseason stride towards the end of the season.”

If Armstead had a low salary, he’d still be worth the risk. But he’s owed more than $14 million in 2024, which is the 12th most of any left tackle.

What’s more, the Dolphins are some $50 million over the salary cap, and Armstead’s cap figure — $20.8 million — is sixth highest on the team.

If Armstead would have retired, it would have created some relief, but Miami still would have had some debt to pay down due to bonuses and restructures agreed upon earlier in the deal.

Cutting Armstead prior to June 1 would come with a massive dead cap charge — $24.1 million. That means he would cost more against the cap to cut than keep.

So if the Dolphins do cut Armstead, it’ll almost certainly be with a post-June 1 designation. That accounting trick would free up $9.4 million in space the Dolphins could use this summer. But it would also leave them without their left tackle, and force them to find four starters on the eve of free agency.

Our advice to all parties: Negotiate a new contract that comes with a pay cut. Armstead, by declining to retire, has already assured himself the $5 million that became fully guaranteed last March.

He’s unlikely to make a ton more than that anywhere else in 2024, so Armstead and the Dolphins should slice his remaining $8.3 million in base salary (which would be fully guaranteed three days after the start of free agency) in half, with the possibility to earn it all back should Armstead play all 17 games.

Nine million in 2024 is a fair price for all involved. And it would help Armstead get closer to what he suggested last month is his real reason for continuing to play — winning.

“I care so much and, and everybody else in this locker room, like we understand the hardship from the fan base and not seeing success, not seeing those big victories,” Armstead said after the Dolphins’ playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

KEEP READING: Miami Dolphins Should Work Something Out With Connor Williams — ASAP

“And we wear that too, man. Like I don’t want the fans to think that we don’t, that we’re just oblivious to it. That’s, that’s not the case. We play, and we try to represent them the best way we possibly can.

“Unfortunately, we came short, but like we, we want that for them, we want them to get bragging their rights to talk s— to their coworkers or their friends across the league. I love that part of it. I love interacting with fans getting their perspective on everything. So, we carry that. We carry that burden too.”

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