Imagine the Dolphins did not just swap first-round picks to acquire Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso from the Eagles. What if, instead, Miami also traded away another first-round draft pick to get the deal done?
If we consider the cap space they gave up in the trade, the Dolphins essentially did just that. In terms of the lost opportunity to sign additional players over the next two seasons, Miami surrendered the financial equivalent of the 25th pick in the draft by taking on Maxwell and Alonso's contracts.
We can check out all four NFL trades made of the past couple of weeks this way, accounting completely for every asset, including cap space. By factoring in the value of the draft picks and cap space together on the same scale, we can see, for example, how well Maxwell and Alonso will need to perform to make that trade a win for the Dolphins (answer: better than either player has in the past).
I'll analyze all of the deals from the point of view of the team giving up salary cap space. Cap space is a key part of all the big trades this offseason -- including the Cardinals' deal to acquire Chandler Jones from the Patriots -- but no deal had bigger cap implications than the trade between the Dolphins and the Eagles.