If reports of the Miami Dolphins’ releasing playmaking linebacker Kyle Van Noy are true, it should not come as that much of a shock when considering how the NFL business works, and the hallowed salary cap.
Van Noy, who signed a $51 million deal with the Dolphins a year ago after leaving the New England Patriots, displayed his big-play abilities in Miami until a hip injury sidelined him for a chunk of this past season.
When the Dolphins reportedly informed him he will be let go, Van Noy was as surprised as anyone. It also caught one of his former college coaches off guard.
Virginia co-defensive coordinator Kelly Poppinga said the news went against all the conversations he had had with both Van Noy and some of those in the Miami organization.
In a statement he released Tuesday, Van Noy said, “I am surprised and disappointed in their decision. As a captain I gave my all to the team. I fought through a painful hip injury during the season, including spending a night in the hospital after a game. I was brought there to be a leader and I know my teammates looked up to me and respected me. I am looking forward to making an impact on my next team, on and off the field.”
Poppinga began gathering what information he could immediately after hearing the news.
“Shoot, I had recently talked to Kyle during the season and again when we were down there when we played Miami,” said Poppinga. “I have relationships with some guys on their staff, and all the things they had said about him were all very positive for his leadership. They loved the way he came in and was able to get the defense lined up and was able to get the blitzes called the right way. And, you know, everything was very positive.”
Poppinga said Van Noy had some injuries, but nothing that should hold him back.
“I was really surprised actually when another coach on our staff sent me a text message of the tweet saying that he’d been released. It is surprising, but something that does happen in the league. I do think he has a couple of very good years left in him,” said Poppinga.
“I don’t think this was anything sinister. It might just be that Miami is really struggling to get under the salary cap and they had to do something to make it work.” — Kelly Poppinga
Van Noy’s huge contract may have had something to do with it. Like most giant money deals, it is back-loaded. Most of the money comes later in the deal so teams don’t have to pay so much upfront. In this case the deal was worth a total of $51 million for four years.
“I don’t think this was anything sinister. It might just be that Miami is really struggling to get under the salary cap and they had to do something to make it work,” said his former coach, who is a strong proponent of pointing out Van Noy’s obvious talent and value as a defensive player.
It’s all there on film for any interested teams to see. He’s done it in college and in the NFL.
“If there was one player you could rely on when you absolutely had to have someone make a big play, it was Van Noy,” Poppinga said. “I think that playmaking is the ultimate thing that every team wants. Teams want somebody that can make plays and that’s why I think there’s gonna be somebody out there for him now. It’s just a matter of how much money they’re going to pay him and how much will Kyle want.”
While a Cougar, Van Noy almost single-handedly delivered a bowl win in San Diego for BYU against San Diego State with a timely pick-six and forced a fumble and recovery in the end zone for a score. He did that earlier in his college career with a fumble and score at Ole Miss. At New England he made similar huge plays at the right time for the Patriots.
“He always just found a way to be around the ball, whether it was blocking a punt, or getting an interception, or batting the ball down, or getting the strip sack fumble, he was just always around the ball and as a defensive player you just almost never find that,” Poppinga said.
“It’s just obvious talent that he has, something steeped in nature that not many football players have. The defense he ran with the Patriots and the Dolphins, there are a lot of intricacies of it and a lot of ways you can set up blitzes and coverages set up for him to take advantage of that natural talent.”
Van Noy released?
Yes, it is a bit of a jolt because he is that good.
But when it comes to business, sometimes it is just that.