While Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Anthony Brown are getting most of the attention as potential salary cap casualties this offseason, Defensive End Tarell Basham is another player with some cap savings in his contract. How likely is it that the Dallas Cowboys bring the pass rusher back in 2022?
Basham was a free agent signing last year who filled a considerable role on defense without much fanfare. He played in all 17 games, starting six, and had the highest snap count of all Cowboys defensive linemen.
Much of that high usage came from absences by DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory due to injuries and COVID. But even when some of Tarell's snaps went down back to their rightful owners, he was giving value to the team as a rotation piece and on special teams.
This all speaks to a valuable roleplayer, and Basham's $3 million cap hit in 2022 is commensurate with his contributions. If the Cowboys weren't in cap trouble then there would be little threat to Tarell's job this offseason, but unfortunately that's not where we are.
While not a high number compared to others, Basham's contract still offers $1.75 million in cap relief if he's released. In an offseason where every cap dollar counts, that's enough of a chunk to at least pull Basham's name into the conversation.
Helping Tarell's cause is that Gregory and Armstrong are free agents, leaving just he, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Chauncey Golston as the only defensive ends of consequence from last year's team, Depending on what their offseason strategy is to retain or replace Dorance and Randy, the Cowboys may cling to Basham as an insurance policy for their 2022 depth.
Then again, if Dallas thinks they can fill his role with a rookie or a minimal free agent signing, Basham's release could still clear about $1 million off the cap even after the cost of adding his replacement.
Because of the uncertainty with Gregory and Armstrong, Tarell will likely keep his spot during the early waves of roster moves. But depending on what free agency and the draft bring, Dallas could eventually decide the cap space is more valuable than the player.
Like so many this offseason, Tarell Basham can't feel entirely secure about this future with the Cowboys. But with contributions in 2021 that went generally underrated, he's at least proven that he deserves to stay.