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Cowboys Have NFL’s 3rd-Highest Adjusted Cap Space for 2021

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the NFL’s most publicized salary cap problems in 2021 thanks to the free agency of franchise QB Dak Prescott. While the team definitely has hurdles to overcome, thankfully they will be getting a big chunk of assistance through the league’s provision for cap space to roll over from the previous season. The Cowboys will be getting about $27.5 million added to their salary cap in 2021; third-highhttps://twitter.com/fieldyates/status/1367613973013667843?s=21est among all NFL teams.

The NFL has yet to release the final 2021 salary cap number, though the current projection right now is $180 million. If that holds true then Dallas will have a total salary cap of about $209.5 million for the upcoming season.

Only the Cleveland Browns ($29.4m) and the New York Jets ($28.1m) are receiving higher adjustments to their caps than the Cowboys. This is a huge difference from some other franchises who are only getting $1-4 million in rollover cap space.

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The NFL has finalized its club adjustments/carryover for the 2021 league year. The amount for each team is added to league wide salary cap and serves as each team’s adjusted cap #.E.g.: if the cap is set at $180M, the Browns will have a league-high adjusted cap of $209,409,691. pic.twitter.com/m7Shr9eX01

This sounds lovely on the surface for the Cowboys, and sure it’s better than the alternative, but it doesn’t solve all of Dallas’ cap woes. In fact it still leaves the team in a rough spot with its current contractual obligations and Dak Prescott not yet accounted for..

Even with this help Dallas still has a projected $178.6 million in cap usage for 2021. Based on the projected cap that would give them roughly $31 million in space for the offseason.

But again, Dak Prescott isn’t part of these calculations.

If franchise-tagged again Prescott would count over $37 million against the 2021 cap. This is why a second franchise tag is an absolute last resort for the Cowboys; it would severely handicap their offseason activity and likely force a few cap casualties or restructures that they’d rather not do.

If Prescott gets a long-term deal then it gives Dallas far more flexibility, like the Chiefs had with Pat Mahomes’ mega contract, to get other business done in the first few seasons.

We will dive much deeper into cap talk when we have the finalized numbers to work with. For now, this is just a reality check that Dallas’ huge addition of rollover cap space isn’t as sexy it sounds. It will certainly help the Cowboys this offseason, but the Prescott contract still looms large and will dictate how much the team can really do to improve in 2021.

What do you think?

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Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. The cap problem is not Dak. It is Elliott at 17, Lawrence at 25 and JSmith at 10. All of those are at twice of their real value .
    Spend 25% of the cap on 3 guys who are in reality average starters or worse and you get in cap trouble.

  2. Non-exclusive tag Dak and pray somebody takes him off our hands. This has turned into a gigantic mess due to inflexibility on both sides. We have to find a way out without having to spend $40-45M/yr and NEVER kick the can down the road like this again.

  3. Just a note when offense was running through zeke the team was 13-3 and they controlled the ball so the defense wouldn’t get exposed, zeke number went down Dak went up and defense got exposed because all the 3 and outs

  4. the seemingly yearly Dak drama is tiring and starting to lose me as a fan. Sign him, trade him but make a decision. I like Dak, but would get rid of him at 40m/year. The NFL should create a rule where a team can only spend a max of xx% percent of the salary cap on one position

  5. Non exclusive tag on Dak is no brainer and smartest move. Hopefully, some team would want him for 2 first rounders, but doubt it.

  6. Actually we can move on from Smith after next year without much of a hit. Unless he turns into a different player i would show him the door. He’s a liability right now.

    Non exclusive tag won’t happen for Dak. It’s too late in the game for that. He’ll be exclusive tagged which is a terrible allocation of resources at 37.7 million with the possibility he walks without compensation after next year.

  7. Dak and Smith both need to go ! Then the Jones need to write the checks . Leave running the team to somebody else !
    Jerry hasn’t won a super bowl since Johnson and Switzer teams ! Those yrs coaching and selection of talent was all Jimmy Johnson ! Jerry a owner would fire you !

  8. Dallas just needs to pay Dak what he deserves, 42-44m per season. Franchise QB’s don’t grow on trees and Dallas isn’t very good at finding them either. If they miss out on Dak, then Cowboys fans better get ready for at least 5 years of being one of the worst teams in the NFL, until Dallas luck’s into a decent QB. Fans are acting like paying Dak 5m more per season is going to break the bank.

  9. This has gotten ridiculous. I am a huge dak fan but I’m all forgetting rid of him now. Like the 1 guy said when we run the offense thru Zeke we control the ball and we win games. Not as much pressure for the D dealing with a short field. We could win with a serviceable qb. The game is won at the line of scrimmage

  10. It’s not too late in the game for the non-exclusive tag. Look, I’m not trying to disparage Dak here, he’s just overplayed his hand and there seems to be no way out. Jerry and Dak’s agent have locked horns and neither wants to be perceived as the loser. No affordable long term deal is going to be signed. If he was the kind of QB who could load a lesser team on his shoulders and carry them to the SB at $40M/yr we could go that route. We all know he’s not that guy. So we either way over pay for Dak’s talent level, or find a way to deal him out of Dallas. The non-e tag effectively grants him limited free agent status to negotiate with other teams beginning March 17th. We can get something in return for Dak this year on the non-e. Next year we can’t.

  11. All you idiots that keep saying to put the non exclusive tag on Dak and let him talk to other teams are stupid!! First off, we can do that, but that only allows us to match the other teams offer…. And if Dak takes the offer from the other team then we just lose him, we won’t get 2 first round picks out of it, cause we used the exclusive tag on him last year!! So using the non exclusive tag on him would be just like letting him walk, and that would be stupid!! The only way we can get anything for him is to tag him and trade him, and that won’t even work unless Dak agrees to it!! And the next thing is if we did let Dak go, who do you idiots plan on having at QB!? Ben Di’nucci…. Garrett Gilbert?? I don’t think so…. Garrett Gilbert would be a good backup, but that’s it!! We need Dak unless you idiots wanna go back to how it was after we lost Troy Aikman and before we got Romo!! Apparently you people don’t remember those days!! But I do, and I would give Dak whatever he wanted to make sure we didn’t have to go back to those days!! You people need to use your heads!! You wanna talk about how we’ll be in cap hell and we’ll be mediocre for years to come if we pay Dak, but the truth is that for 1 there’s no such thing as cap hell, there’s always a way to get cap room…. And 2, if we don’t sign Dak we’ll be mediocre for years to come cause we all know how hard it is to find a franchise QB, and we all know how stupid Jerry is when it comes to finding a good QB, in case you don’t remember the days after Aikman and before Romo, not to mention the fact that Jerry tried to trade up in the draft to get Connor Cook, and we know how he turned out….. In case you don’t know, he’s not even in the NFL anymore!! We got lucky when we drafted Dak, and you idiots just wanna let him walk…. Smh!! You people wanting to let Dak go are asking for us to be mediocre or worse for the next decade or more!!

  12. Baker Mayfield a average QB ? Didn’t he make playoffs last year ?

    Jared Goff a average QB ? Didn’t he make it to SB ?

    Jimmy G a average QB ? Didn’t he make it to SB ?

    Nick Foles a average QB ? Didn’t he win a SB ?

    Trent Dilfer a average QB ? Didn’t he win a SB ?

    The idea you need a elite QB to make or win SB holds some water , but it’s not impossible to win with a average QB , but the idea you need an elite QB to make playoffs is RIDICULOUS , you don’t need one ,

    I do remember the time between Aikman and Romo , Quincy Carter went 10-6 and made the playoffs, what makes Dak making playoffs so special compared to him ? Las time I checked , Dak hasn’t won a SB

    The idea that if Dak goes our team goes down with him is stupid , ignorant, and short sighted , even a average QB can accomplish what Dak has done , the stats ppl talk doesn’t mean shit to me , if it doesn’t lead to wins , where as I can get same results with a lesser QB ,

    It makes no sense to me to sign Dak to what he’s wanting, if I’m GM , I’d have traded his ass long ago , but that’s Jerry for ya , he can’t make up his mind , “Do I stick with Dak or do I trade him ?” Either way , you got to make a decision and should’ve made one long before now

  13. BIG COWBOY- You do realize he’ll get exclusive tagged on MAR 9th. A non exclusive tag deal isn’t getting done in 2 days.

    Throwup88- The jury is still out on Mayfield at this point. The Rams just gave Goff away. Looks like 49ers have given up on Jimmy G. Foles was a one season wonder and is an afterthought right now. Dilfer was a game manager who needed that tremendous defense Tampa Bay had that year.

    No it’s not impossible to win with an average QB. It’s just not very likely. Maybe u don’t need an elite QB but u usually need a really good one ( which I think Dak is). Like u said Jerry can’t make up his mind. Every year he failed to sign Dak the price tag went up. Now here we are and Dak has Jerry by the nads. A good GM would have never let it get to this point where Dak has all the leverage.

  14. I like Dak…how many playoff wins again? How many Super Bowls? Man I can’t justify it. He’s not even a top 5 quarterback and wants to be paid like number 2. Just behind the guy that took his team to two superbowls and won one. I like the idea of tag and trade.

  15. Gary b- The Cowboys have until March 9th to place a franchise tag on Prescott, either the exclusive or non-exclusive. It would be against league rules to even attempt to work out a deal with another team prior to March 15th, the beginning of the legal tampering period. Furthermore, funds don’t become available to finalize agreed upon deals until March 17th. The non-exclusive tag simply grants Dak the right to have discussions with other teams BEGINNING March 15th. It essentially grants him limited free agent status with the Cowboys having right of first refusal.

    Cowboys fan- I don’t know where you got your information, but you are just plain WRONG. The only way we are affected by having placed the exclusive tag last year is that we don’t get the reduced pay rate afforded by the non-exclusive in a first tag year. Rules call for a minimum 20% pay increase from the prior year, same as the exclusive, bringing us right back to the $37.7M. Secondly, cool it with the name calling. When you have to resort to that it always means you’ve lost your argument because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  16. Defense wins championships. 37 millions dollars in free agency could sure go a long way in shoring up the defense. Dalton did not play that bad the end of the year considering all of the injuries on the offensive line and our defense putting us in a position to have to come from behind. Draft a QB so we have the rookie deal for a while again. Use the rest of the money on a safety, corner, def line and vet qb for couple years. Let Dak go play for a team like the Jets.

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