Details of the four-year, $32 million contract Grimes signed on Monday morning were released on Wednesday afternoon, and it turns out that rookie GM Dennis Hickey and cap guru Dawn Aponte did an even better job on the deal than optimistic Dolphins fans thought they would.
According to various reports, Grimes will cost the Dolphins $4 million in 2014, $10 million in 2015, $9.525 million in 2016 and $8.5 million in 2017 against the salary cap along with a $6 million signing bonus. However, his base salary numbers in 2014 and 2015 — $2.475 million and $8.475 million — are fully guaranteed, meaning the Dolphins aren’t on the hook for a significant commitment beyond 2015.
Grimes, who turns 31 in July, could begin to regress in 2016 at 33 years old or in 2017 at 34. The Dolphins are obviously confident in his ability to sustain a high level of play for the next two seasons but have reservations about his ability to do so further down the road. In the event Grimes’ play worsens, Hickey and Aponte have provided themselves an exit strategy.
With the majority of the contract’s guaranteed money distributed over the next two seasons, the Dolphins could save as much as $8 million in cap space by cutting Grimes in 2016 and $5.5 million by cutting him in 2017. Essentially, it’s a two year-deal for Grimes with a team option for a third and fourth season.
If Grimes is still considered an elite cornerback two years from now, the Dolphins will keep him around without hesitation. But given his age and injury history, Grimes maintaining an elite level of play is far from a guarantee. Knowing this, Grimes will be highly motivated to continue shutting down receivers and making plays this season and the next.
Grimes’ incentive to continue balling is undoubtedly significant, and that is an invaluable asset for the Dolphins. Complacency is one of the biggest deterrents when inking stars to lucrative contracts. There shouldn’t be any with Grimes.
Even assurance that Grimes remains hungry for the duration of the deal doesn’t protect the Dolphins from the uncertainties that come with his age, though. For that reason, Miami got an incredibly friendly deal for a player who finished as the second-most efficient at his position in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus, by essentially only committing to Grimes for two years.
Locking up Grimes was one of the Dolphins’ biggest priorities this offseason. Teams often succumb to the pressure of completing priorities by paying more and committing longer than they are comfortable with. That wasn’t the case with Grimes’ deal in Miami, though. Hickey and Aponte check re-signing Grimes off the to-do list in style.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.