DALLAS DOLLARS & SENSE: Cowboys create cap cushion–Romo restructured | $12.8 million mad-money move | Top-10 QB salaries for next two seasons

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IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys opted to restructure Tony Romo’s contract, freeing up several million dollars in salary cap space in the process.

The possibility of restructuring Romo’s deal has been tossed around throughout this offseason. Valued at $108 million overall, is easily the largest contract on the Cowboys’ books. It’s common practice for teams looking to free up spending space, as the Cowboys restructured both Romo and Sean Lee in 2014.

Earlier this offseason, the Cowboys restructured Tyron Smith’s deal, freeing up $10 million in space.

It’s worth pointing out that the move is simply a rearrangement of Romo’s existing deal, not a pay cut. That said, it effectively functions to lower the quarterback’s astronomical cap hit of $27 million and give the Cowboys extra money to work with in 2015

Essentially, the restructure will convert all but $1 million of Romo’s salary for 2015 to a signing bonus and reduce his cap hit by about $12.8 million.

In exchange for the short-term relief, Romo’s cap hit will increase by about $3.2 million over the next four years. His 2016 cap hit was slated to be $17.6 million, but will now bump up to $20.8 million. He will count toward the cap for $24.7 million in 2017, $25.2 million in 2018 and $23.7 million in 2019.

The savings will give the team the necessary cap room for a variety of offseason activities – namely, re-signing Rolando McClain, signing their 2015 draft picks and accounting for the bonuses worked into various contracts, such as McClain’s and Greg Hardy’s.

It would also free up some additional space for the Dallas Cowboys to pursue further moves in free agency, should they decide to.

Following the restructure, the Cowboys are sitting at about $12 million in cap space, after factoring in the McClain contract. All of that is subject to change, depending on the cost of upcoming draft picks, Hardy’s pending discipline from the NFL – not to mention any potential contract negotiations with Brandon Carr.

But for the time being, it does create some breathing room for the Dallas Cowboys cap situation.

TOP-10 QB SALARIES: Cowboys get bargain the next 2-years with restructure

Over the next two seasons, Tony Romo will have a combined cap hit of approximately $35.8 million.

So which NFL quarterback is scheduled to cost his team the biggest chunk of cap space over the next two seasons?

That would be Saints QB Drew Brees, who is slated to count $53.8 million vs. New Orleans’ cap through the 2016 season ($26.4 million in 2015 and $27.4 million in 2016).

Without a restructured deal, Romo would have cost the Dallas Cowboys a combined $45.4 million over the next two seasons. That would have placed him second behind Brees among the top 10 QBs for combined cap space in 2015 and 2016.

As it is now, Romo is eighth on the list.

Here are the top 10 most costly quarterbacks and their cap hits for 2015 and 2016, according to watchdog website Spotrac.

  • Drew Brees, Saints: $26.4 million and $27.4 million. $53.8 million total.
  • Matt Ryan, Falcons: $19.5 million and $23.75 million. $43.25 million total.
  • Joe Flacco, Ravens: $14.55 million and $28.55 million. $43.1 million total.
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: $17,245,000 and $23,950,000. $41.195 million total.
  • Matthew Stafford, Lions: $17,721,250 and $22,500,000. $40.221 million total.
  • Peyton Manning, Broncos: $17.5 million and $21.5 million. $39 million total.
  • Aaron Rodgers, Packers: $18.25 million and 19.25 million.  $37.5 million total.
  • Tony Romo, Cowboys: $14,973,000 and $20,835,000. $35.8 million total.
  • Jay Cutler, Bears: $16.5 million and $17 million. $33.5 million total.
  • Alex Smith, Chiefs: $15.6 million and $17.8 million. $33.4 million total.

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