REALLOCATING ROMO’S RESTRUCTURE: Absurd Adrian Peterson assumption analyzed | Salary-Cap Swallowed Space
IRVING, Texas – With so many putting two and two together and coming up with eight, maybe we should perform a little Dallas Cowboys salary cap analysis to shed some light on this situation. Continue reading →
DALLAS DOLLARS & SENSE: Cowboys create cap cushion–Romo restructured | $12.8 million mad-money move | Top-10 QB salaries for next two seasons
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. Continue reading →
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys guard Ronald Leary ranked third in the league in performance-based pay for 2013, the NFL announced in its annual report.
The purpose of the program is to compensate players whose playing time surpasses their contract for the league year. Leary earned an additional $307,104.43, making him one of 11 players in the league to make at least $250,000 in additional compensation, due April 1.
Compensation does not count against the NFL’s salary cap of $133 million. Each team is allotted roughly $3.5 million to compensate players through an agreement with the NFL Players Association.
Leary started all 16 games at left guard last season, after he signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He spent the majority of his rookie year on the practice squad before taking over for Nate Livings in training camp last summer.
Upon taking over the starting role, Leary played 71.3 percent of the team’s offensive snaps last year.
Before accounting for his performance-based pay, Leary’s initial salary for the 2013 season was $405,000. He’s slated to make $495,000 in 2014 – the final year of his initial contract before he becomes a restricted free agent in 2015.
Several other Cowboys players benefitted from the performance-based pay program, largely thanks to the rash of injuries that forced unheralded players into the starting lineup. Safety Jeff Heath, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Saginaw Valley State, rose up the depth chart to start eight games and roughly 57 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
Heath’s compensation for 2013 is $247,273.09. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden, who was also an afterthought on the training camp roster before starting all 16 games, made an additional $156,788.33.
George Selvie, who is now the Dallas Cowboys returning sack leader from 2013, also earned an additional $141,704.71 after earning a starting spot as a late addition to the training camp roster.
All told, the Cowboys made performance payments to 39 players during the 2013 season.
THIS WEEKS FREE AGENCY FRENZY: The dollars n’ sense of the Dallas Cowboys NFL Salary Cap | 2014 NFL Free Agent Review
IRVING, Texas – First the good news.
As expected the Dallas Cowboys successfully ducked under the NFL salary cap last week despite all the consternation being made out there.
By this afternoon they still had roughly $7 million of cap space, and by June 1 they will add another $5.5 million when the release of Miles Austin takes effect, basically a savings fund to absorb this year’s rookie pool, projected to cost them roughly $5.3 million for their eight draft choices.
Oh, and this may be a reach, but the current Dallas Cowboys Top 51 cap figure for 2015 is only $108 million, but then that doesn’t account for Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith’s option ($10.5 million), Doug Free, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, Ronald Leary, and Miles Austin’s $5 million more of dead money that rolls over into next year. But still, that’s better than this year right, when the Cowboys were projected to be nearly $25 million over the cap heading toward March 11 before the cap increased nearly $7 million (to $133 million).
Now the bad news, and be forewarned, you might not have the stomach for all this.
As you know, after the Dallas Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware the Broncos signed him in the blink of an eye to a three-year deal too rich for the Cowboys’ cap blood to match. Then it took Washington all of two full days to sign unrestricted free agent Jason Hatcher to a four-year deal, another one too rich for the Cowboys’ salary cap constitution, and the Redskins seem to also be flirting with Cowboys unrestricted free agent Anthony Spencer, although with his knee condition there should be a buyer-beware tag on him. And the Cowboys no longer own the rights to wide receiver Miles Austin, designating him a June 1 release.
Now the Cowboys did ink a couple of guys, defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain, but remember, Denver didn’t even attempt to re-sign Mincey and the Texans didn’t even offer McClain a minimum restricted free-agent tender ($1.4 million). At least the Dallas Cowboys didn’t commit a lot of cap dough to them.
MONMOUTH MAN MILES APART: Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin designated as post-June 1 cut | Release creates cap cash earmarked for 2014 NFL Draft picks
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with Miles Austin today, ending several months’ worth of speculation about the veteran wide receiver.
Austin was designated as a post-June 1 cut, which will allow the team to spread his considerable cap hit over the next two years. The move will save the team $5.5 million against the salary cap this season, though that money will be unavailable until after June 1 — the Cowboys would likely use the savings to sign their 2014 draft picks.
However, the 29-year-old veteran will also cost the Cowboys $5.1 million in 2015, thanks to the June 1 designation.
The decision confirms what many had long suspected about Austin since he missed five games and grabbed just 24 catches for 244 yards last season. The undrafted free agent had four seasons remaining on a seven-year, $54 million deal that would been a massive blow to the Cowboys’ future salary cap figures.
Austin earned that big contract with a breakout season for the ages in 2009. Signed out of Division III Monmouth after the 2006 NFL Draft, he earned a place on the Cowboys’ roster for three seasons — mainly as a special teamer.
Following the release of Terrell Owens in 2009, Austin moved into position for more playing time at receiver. After tallying just four catches for 81 yards in the first month of the season, an injury to Roy Williams pushed Austin into the starting lineup in an October 11 matchup against Kansas City, where he exploded for a franchise-record 250 yards, including two touchdowns, on 10 receptions.
Austin tallied a whopping 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns on 81 catches in 2009, and he followed that up with a 69-catch, 1,041-yard, seven-touchdown effort in 2010. He earned Pro Bowl nods in both seasons.
Injuries have either hampered or derailed him in every season since. Austin missed six games and finished with just 579 yards, largely thanks to hamstring injuries — the same injuries that would wreck his 2013 campaign.
Austin did manage 66 catches for 943 yards and six scores in 2012, though injuries again limited his productivity.
All told, the veteran wideout missed 11 games and averaged just 588 yards per season in his last three years as a Cowboy.
The move will likely push second-year receiver Terrance Williams into the starting lineup for good. Williams worked his way into the lineup last fall partly thanks to Austin’s injuries, and he made the most of the opportunity. The rookie started eight games opposite Dez Bryant, and he nabbed 44 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns.
DALLAS COWBOYS NFL SALARY CAP: Team under 2014-2015 cap after releasing Phil Costa and renegotiating Mackenzy Bernadeau contract | DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin decisions pending
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are now under the salary cap after cutting the center many thought could be the starter prior to last year’s draft.
The Cowboys cut Phil Costa and renegotiated the contract of Mackenzy Bernadeau on Friday, putting themselves in better position financially prior to the start of free agency on March 11, which is the beginning of the new league year and the time all teams must be under the cap.
The restructuring of Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick and Sean Lee already saved the Cowboys more than $16 million in cap space, and the move to release Costa saves another $1.5 million. Despite their continual cap restraints, the Dallas Cowboys will have no issue being under the new cap figure next week.
Costa appeared in only six games the last two seasons after starting all 16 games at center in 2011. He started three games at center in 2012 before injuries cut his season short. Costa, who signed a two-year deal worth $2.7 million last year, appeared in three games in 2013, but rookie Travis Frederick started all 16 games at center.
Costa’s been with the Cowboys since signing in Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Maryland, playing in a total of 26 games with 20 starts. He didn’t take a pay cut, and the Cowboys decided to part ways with the center to help get under the cap.
The Cowboys also saved cap space by renegotiating Bernadeau, who came on strong at the end of the 2013 season after getting replaced by Brian Waters. Bernadeau started the first three games of the season before the change was made, and the offensive line remained a strong point of the team when Bernadeau returned to the starting lineup for the final eight games of the season. Bernadeau will challenge for a starting guard spot in 2014.
The Dallas Cowboys sat high above the projected cap figure just weeks ago but figured out a way to get under the cap relatively smoothly and much more easily than many (in the media) anticipated.
If nothing changes, Ware will count $16 million against the cap and Austin will count $8.25 million against the cap. The Cowboys can save $7.4 million by releasing Ware and $5.5 million by designating Austin a post-June 1 cut. Of course, the Dallas Cowboys could also rework Ware’s deal to save cap space if he’s willing to cooperate on a reduction.
RELATED: DeMarcus Ware will listen to Dallas Cowboys offer
Former Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware doesn’t want to take a pay cut but will listen to the Dallas Cowboys thoughts about a restructured deal.
He also hopes for a quick resolution.
The Cowboys informed Ware and representatives earlier this week about their need to lower his salary and cap figure. Ware is due a base salary of $12.25 million in 2014 with a salary cap hit of $16 million. The team would save $7.8 million if they cut Ware.
However, the Cowboys say they want the team’s all-time leading sacker back in 2014.
Ware will be 32 next season and recently underwent surgery for second consecutive off season. He had a career-low six sacks in 2013 when he has hampered by neck, quad and elbow injuries.
Ware expects to be back to his old dominant ways after surgery to repair nerve damage in his elbow last month. He will listen to the Cowboys thoughts on a restructured deal but remains hesitant about taking a major shave in salary.
Ware, who is shoo-in for the Cowboys’ hallowed Ring of Honor and likely future Hall of Famer, is expecting to draw a lot of interest on the free-agent market if he is released.
A decision on Ware would allow them to set a game plan for the start of free agency.
The Cowboys must address the defensive end position in the draft and free agency. Without Ware, it makes the situation even more acute because there are no players on the roster with his talent or prior production.
Even during an injury-plagued and limited 2013 campaign, Ware was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the ninth-most productive 4-3 defensive end as a pass-rusher and third in run-stop percentage. Ware was picked 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005 NFL Draft. He has 117 sacks in nine years to rank first in team history and 18th in NFL history.
THE BUDGET IN REVIEW: Managing the Dallas Cowboys roster and contracts 2014 2015 NFL season | Roster tweaks, restructuring, and salary cap
The Dallas Cowboys (and most NFL teams) will be handcuffed this off-season while trying to upgrade their roster while maneuvering through the NFL’s salary cap restraints.
They won’t have much money to work with in free agency, similar to last season when they were only able to add complementary pieces at the right price — like linebacker Justin Durant and safety Brodney Pool.
That means the Dallas Cowboys must draft well. They did for the most part in 2012, highlighted by key additions in center Travis Frederick (first round) and receiver Terrance Williams (third round).
A fourth consecutive year with no playoff game leaves the Cowboys facing another long off-season. Below, we take a look at some of the key issues the Dallas Cowboys must address before training camp begins in late July:
Getting under the salary cap
The NFL’s 2014 salary cap is projected to be $126.3 million. The Cowboys are projected to be a league-high $31 million over the cap.
But the club’s salary cap woes aren’t anything new. They’ve pushed off their problems year after year as they try to cash in on their aging core before it’s too late.
Teams continue to restructure veterans’ contracts each off-season. They reduce players’ salaries down to or near the veteran minimum and turn the rest into bonus money to create more cap space. The downside, however, is that it increases the players’ cap figures in future years.
It’s a common practice around the league and makes the salary cap more of a charade because of the way NFL executives can manipulate contracts.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones is in charge of the Dallas Cowboys salary cap. When it comes to free agency, the Cowboys believe they will be able to do what they need.
The NFL free agency period opens March 11, which is when the Dallas Cowboys have to be under the 2014 salary cap.
Free agent strategy will include bargain hunting
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says the most important task his staff has each off-season is to evaluate the players Dallas already has. The coaches and scouting department will also be busy looking for new faces to upgrade the roster.
That process begins in earnest with the start of Senior Bowl practices Jan. 20 in Mobile, Ala., and continues at the NFL Scouting Combine Feb. 19-25 in Indianapolis.
The Cowboys will need to draft well considering their tight salary cap. The Cowboys will have to decide who they re-sign among their free agents and be bargain shoppers in pursuing other free agents across the league.
Starting defensive linemen Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher aren’t likely to be re-signed by the Cowboys unless they come at the right price.
The Cowboys used their franchise tag on Spencer for a second consecutive season but he played in only one game. Spencer underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee Oct. 1 and is still recovering.
Hatcher is coming off of his best season with the Cowboys, recording a career- and team-high 11 sacks, but he said a week ago he’ll go to the highest bidder this off-season as he tests the market for likely the last time in his career.
The Cowboys obviously won’t be in great position to outbid teams in free agency, especially for defensive linemen in their 30s.
Drafting soundly will be critical
The Cowboys will have a few extra weeks to prepare for what will be an important draft for them as they look to upgrade their roster.
The NFL draft has been pushed back this year from late April to May 8-10.
Over the next few weeks, the Cowboys will evaluate their biggest needs for 2014 before the front office, coaching staff and scouting department heads to Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 20 for the start of Senior Bowl practices.
The No. 1 need area for the Cowboys is clearly their defensive line. Three of the team’s four projected defensive line starters in 2013 aren’t likely to return, leaving end DeMarcus Ware as the lone man standing.
At minimum, the Cowboys will need to add potential starters at defensive end and tackle. The Cowboys’ defense, which finished last in the NFL this season, also needs help at outside linebacker, safety and cornerback.
Some would like to see the Cowboys draft a quarterback to begin developing, Dallas defense is flawed in several areas and needs immediate help.
On offense, the Cowboys could look to draft a receiver if they part ways with veteran Miles Austin this off-season. Considering the Cowboys’ youth at receiver, perhaps a veteran receiver via free agency would be a better fit if Austin doesn’t return.
Adding depth along the offensive line would also be smart for the Cowboys, especially if six-time Pro Bowl right guard Brian Waters decides to retire.
The Cowboys were one of six teams that finished 8-8 this season. They will draft either 16th or 17th overall based on a coin flip with Baltimore that will take place in February at the NFL scouting combine. The Dallas Cowboys selected 14th overall in last year’s draft.
Cleaning up contracts — a vicious cycle
The Cowboys have some difficult decisions ahead of them with how to handle the current contracts of some aging veterans.
Though getting under the salary cap by March 11 looks daunting now, the Cowboys can make it happen with relative ease.
They can cut more than $35 million off of their 2014 salary cap by restructuring the contracts of quarterback Tony Romo, defensive end DeMarcus Ware, linebacker Sean Lee, tight end Jason Witten, cornerback Brandon Carr and cornerback Orlando Scandrick and making wide receiver Miles Austin a post-June 1 cut.
The Cowboys would save $5.5 million in cap space by making Austin a post-June 1 cut. Austin and Ware both restructured their contracts last off-season, but the Cowboys could ask each to take a pay cut this off-season to save money, the same way right tackle Doug Free did in 2013.
Austin, who will be 30 this summer, is coming off of his worst season as a starter with the Cowboys. He again struggled to stay healthy, finishing with only 24 catches for 244 yards and no touchdowns. His base salary in 2014 is scheduled to be $5.5 million with a salary cap hit of $8.25 million.
Ware said Monday he’s not interested in taking a pay cut but would again restructure his contract to help the Cowboys’ free up some cap space. Ware, who will be 32 next season and finished with a career-low six sacks in 2013, is scheduled to make $12.2 million in 2014 and has a cap hit of $16 million.
Key off-season dates – NFL Dallas Cowboys calendar 2014
Jan. 20 — Week of Senior Bowl practices begin in Mobile, Ala.
Jan. 26 — Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii
Feb. 17 — First day for clubs to designate franchise or transition players
Feb. 19-25 — NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
March 3 — Deadline for clubs to designate franchise or transition players
March 11 — First day of the 2014 league year; all clubs must be under the 2014 salary cap; 2014 free agency period begins.
April 21 — Clubs with returning head coaches may begin off-season workouts
May 8-10 — 2014 NFL Draft in New York City, N.Y.
Dallas Cowboys free agents
Here’s a look at the 2014 Dallas Cowboys free agents:
Exclusive rights (Two years of experience; can’t negotiate with other teams)
Chris Jones – punter
Restricted (3 years of experience, can negotiate with other teams; Cowboys right to match)
Dan Bailey – kicker
Phillip Tanner – running back
Unrestricted (can negotiate with any team, Cowboys don’t have right to match)
Ryan Cook – center
Jason Hatcher – defensive tackle
Edgar Jones – defensive end
Jon Kitna – quarterback
Danny McCray – safety
Ernie Sims – linebacker
Anthony Spencer – defensive end
Brian Waters – right guard
Jarius Wynn – defensive end
In the aftermath of the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 season-ending loss to the Eagles Sunday night, defensive end DeMarcus Ware said he would consider taking a pay cut to help the team manage the salary cap.
(Editors comment: No, he didn’t say that. The media twisted his words. DeMarcus Ware expressed his willingness to help restructure his contract to help the Dallas Cowboys salary cap).
Ware clarified those comment Monday.
“The question was with the salary cap stuff and everything, would you be able to maneuver some things in your contract,” Ware said. “I said I’ll do what I need to do to help the team out. It’s nothing new to me. But pay cut and restructure are two different things. You hear what I’m saying. Clar-i-fy.”
So you didn’t say pay cut?
“No, I didn’t say that,” Ware said. “I said I will do whatever I need to do to maneuver some things around to help the team out. I’m for that.”
Ware is scheduled to make a base salary of $12.2 million next season including a $500,000 workout bonus. Ware’s 2014 cap figure is $16 million.
The looming question is how much Ware is worth at this point. He had just six sacks in 2013, his fewest since his rookie year 2005.
Ware also battled elbow, quad and back injuries this year. He plans to have surgery to clean up issues with his elbow in the off season.
But he will be 32 next season and there is also a question of whether he has lost a step.
“Not at all. Not at all,” Ware said. “Like going back into training camp, I felt better than I have in a long time. Then the little injuries happen with the quad and your elbow and your back so you sit back and think about what can I do now this off-season to make sure this doesn’t happen again, because I know exactly where I can be and how I can play. Injuries took a toll on me a lot this season. But that’s no excuse because I got out there and played. I’ve got to figure out some way to get healthy this off-season for next season.”
DeMarcus Ware postgame interview: I will do whatever I need to help team out
NFL TRADE DEALINE APPROACHING: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones open to a trade, but it’s got to fit salary cap
The Dallas Cowboys are open to making a trade before the Tuesday deadline, but making it work with their salary-cap situation is another matter entirely.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the defensive line is the obvious spot the Cowboys would be willing to listen to offers.
“We’re certainly open to it,” Jones said Friday. “I know our guys are working back there. I’m working. If the right situation presented itself, we would certainly do something. I mean, it’s no secret we’re moving a lot of guys in and out in our defensive line and that will probably continue to be the case. I think we already have some workouts scheduled for Monday. We’re just taking a look at guys. [Defensive line coach] Rod [Marinelli] is doing a heck of a job. I admire our young guys that are in there playing hard. To some degree, it’s a good situation. The guys know it’s week to week, and they’ve got to play hard and give it their best and play the right style of defense. You’ve got to admire what that group is getting accomplished. But we certainly would look at any type of situation there if the right deal was there, but we also can’t, for a quick fix, do something that would hurt long term.”
The Dallas Cowboys are only $2 million under the $123 million salary cap. They are projected to be $31 million over next year’s cap.
“At the end of the day it’s got to fit our cap, and that’s another thing,” Jones said. “It would have to really just fit right to sacrifice our cap some, because it will be an issue for us next year, and we certainly manage our salary cap hand in hand with ’13, ’14 and ’15 all side by side as we manage and we see how that affects each year.”
The player also would have to be the right fit on the field. A new player, no matter how talented and experienced, enters as a rookie in terms of his knowledge of the team’s playbook.
The Colts recently made a splash by trading for former first-round pick Trent Richardson, but in four games with Indianapolis, Richardson has rushed for 228 yards on 75 carries and has lost a fumble.
“You have to measure everything,” Jones said. “You have to measure the cap but I think people are getting more and more skilled at that in terms of how they look at it and know that if you trade for a guy he’s got to fit. He’s got to fit under the cap. He’s got to fit under improving your team and I think teams are understanding that and that’s why you’re probably seeing more trades but it’s certainly not as easy as it would be if you didn’t have a salary cap but I don’t think we’re ever going to have to worry about that again. As far as I’m concerned it looks like we’re going to have a salary cap for a long time.”
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Stephen Jones on NFL Trade Deadline options and Jay Ratliff
Stephen Jones spoke with the media about the legal issues involving Jay Ratliff, and what the team is looking at heading into the NFL Trade Deadline.