I’m going to go into more detail about this in an article later today, but right now (according to OverTheCap.com and Spotrac.com) the Cowboys are headed into the draft with no cap space to actually sign their rookies. In broad terms, they would need an estimated $5 million cleared to sign all of their draft picks, in addition to the $4 million in space they currently have.
Dallas gets $6.38 million in space if they cut Carr outright and $9.1 million if they make him a post-June 1st cut, which increases our dead money for 2017. This is the clearest and simplest way to free up the needed space.
The Cowboys already know this and have likely been projecting it since the start of free agency. Therefore, the logical question is why they haven’t cut Carr already?
Remember, the last Collective Bargaining Agreement included a provision that allows teams to go ahead and designate two players as June 1st cuts even before we hit the calendar date. It’s a player-friendly move that allows released players to take advantage of free agency when the market opens. Given Brandon Carr’s sterling reputation with the organization, you’d think Dallas would extend him that courtesy if they knew he was being cut.
On the other hand, Carr has set precedent for playing contract hardball with the Cowboys. He refused to negotiate a salary reduction last year despite clearly not playing up to his contract. He may be a “team player” on the field and a great guy in the community but teams don’t forget when you put the screws to them over money.
Many are now assuming that Carr’s continued presence is a sign that he’ll play out the contract for one more year. However, this situation with the rookie salaries still leaves the door wide open for something to happen.
Dallas still has the leverage here and Carr’s refusal to negotiate his salary makes it easier for them to use it. I think they’ve been holding him this long in the hopes that he would eventually accept the pay cut, not wanting to enter free agency after money’s been spent and rookies have been drafted. Some veterans end up not finding any work after being a June 1st cut.
Dallas can work their leverage even beyond the June 1st date. They can deny Carr enjoying that extra little wave of free agency and not cut him until near the start of training camp. It wasn’t long ago that the Cowboys didn’t get their rookies signed until shortly before camp, though they’ve been doing it earlier in recent years.
One thing is certain; if Dallas didn’t want Carr on the roster then they’d have already cut him now by now. As was already said, they have the flexibility to make him a June 1st cut without waiting for the date to fall. The only reason he’s still here is that Dallas is hoping to retain the player but also getting his cap figure knocked down.
My next article is going to break down several other ways Dallas can clear the necessary cap space even if they don’t touch Carr’s contract. However, there’s no question that Carr remains the single best option for freeing up money.
What’s more, the draft remains a huge factor in determining Carr’s value. Dallas could end up with Jalen Ramsey or Vernon Hargreaves, who could be Day One starters or at least in your top three with Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne. You don’t have to worry about keeping Carr around then.
The second round could also yield a quality corner. One of several first-round talents could be there at the 34th pick: Eli Apple, Kendall Fuller, Mackensie Alexander, or Williams Jackson. Though not on the same talent tier as Ramsey or Hargreaves, these guys would still be expected to contribute right away.
Despite all the remaining variables, it’s clear that the assumption of Brandon Carr staying with Dallas is premature. If anything, I would still best that he’ll eventually be released.
Like so many of our remaining question, we’ll hopefully start to get some answers on April 28th.