The NFL has yet to release the official salary cap for 2021 as the league and the players union continue to iron out details. With the franchise tag deadline coming tomorrow and free agency opening next week, not having a finalized salary cap could delay these long-awaited offseason events.
While both the Cowboys and Prescott have expressed their desire to reach a long-term contract agreement, the team was still likely to use the franchise tag as a temporary measure. Currently they have until 4:00 pm EST on Tuesday, March 9th, to make this official.
A storyline to follow going forward: If the official salary cap number doesn’t come today and soon, NFL will have to move back the deadline to franchise tag players from Tuesday. It’s a situation several GMs are bracing for and would further stall business for a bit.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2021
Per sources: NFL and NFLPA continue to work to finalize 2021 salary cap number. Union prefers to wait until TV deals are finalized. Due to this uncertainty, there are discussions about pushing back Tuesday’s deadline for teams to use franchise tag.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 8, 2021
We could see a ripple effect to other offseason business depending on how long this delay continues. The start of free agency is a little over a week away; 4:00pm EST on Wednesday, March 17th. Teams can also begin negotiating with external free agents on Monday, March 15th in what is stupidly called the “legal tampering period.”
This could be seen as a positive for the Cowboys if a delay in the franchise tag deadline allows them to finally get a contract done with Dak Prescott. A multi-year deal would maximize their financial flexibility for free agency; far more lenient than the albatross that a second franchise tag of $37 million would be.
But we're already just a day away from the tag deadline and still the two sides remain in negotiations. Of course, even if the tag does get placed on Dak, they could still work out the long-term deal over the week prior to free agency.
Now there's this new wrinkle of the undecided cap figure. While there's a general projection that it will come in around $180 million, and we know the Cowboys will have an additional $27 million from 2020 rollover, the 2021 offseason may stall while the league and the union work on an official number for teams and agents to work from.
Hopefully, for the collective sanity of Cowboys Nation, the league and the union get it figured out today and avoid prolonging our torture.