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Cowboys Have One of the Worst Salary Cap Situations in 2021

NFL teams are projected to have a tough salary cap situation in 2021. But not every team is in the same spot, and the Dallas Cowboys are among the worst teams in terms of cap space.  With league revenues taking a hit due to games being played in empty stadiums, the cap is expected to lower about $20M.

In the revised CBA, players and owners agreed to a minimum 2021 salary cap of $175M. Whatever happens, even if the season is cut short, that’ll be the minimum set to protect players as much as possible next year.

That number could go up if revenues are higher than expected, but for now, that’ll likely be the projected salary cap teams work with. This puts them in uncomfortable positions for two reasons. 1) Current contracts were negotiated with a normal yearly cap increase in mind and 2) They will have little cap space to work in next year’s free agency.

Things aren’t the same for every team, though. For one, teams already have cap liabilities for those players under contract for 2021 already. But that’s not the only reason. Many believe every team has the same cap than the other 31 teams when that’s not true. This is perhaps the most common misconception when it comes to NFL salaries.

In reality, there’s an “unadjusted salary cap.” That number is the same for every NFL franchise, but is then adjusted by each team’s “carryover.” Simply put, any unused cap in 2020 is carried over to next season.

Jason Fitzgerald from Over The Cap took to twitter to the teams in the worst cap shape using a projected $175M unadjusted cap.

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Here are the teams in the worst cap shape in 2021 if there is a $175M cap (includes current cap as carryover)1. Saints- -$70M2. Eagles- -$67M3. Falcons- -$39M4. Steelers- -$17M5. Raiders- -$15M6. Chiefs- -$14M7. Texans -$4M8. Bears- $1M9. Vikings- $2M10. Cowboys- $2M

Although the Cowboys are not $70M over the cap like the New Orleans Saints, they’re not in a good position. They’re only $2M under the projected cap but have yet to sign their franchise QB in Dak Prescott. Using a second franchise tag on Dak would cost over $37 million.

So what’s in store for the Cowboys and how will they handle this tough situation?

Honestly, it seems like the main group of affected players will be the older veterans that aren’t solidified as very good players. I’d expect the league in general to trend toward younger, less expensive guys. A player with eight accrued seasons has a higher minimum salary than a second-year player, and so on.

But mainly, I expect teams to restructure plenty of contracts. This is a common practice for front offices in which they basically sacrifice future cap space for cap space now. The Dallas Cowboys have not been afraid to do so almost on a yearly basis, but in 2021 they might be forced to do it with multiple key players.

Guys that would make the most sense to restructure are DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, and Amari Cooper. If they were to restructure these four, they could be saving about $30M in cap space.

Things won’t be easy, but there are plenty of options for the Dallas Cowboys to ease their salary cap situation in 2021.

Tell me what you think about “Cowboys Have One of the Worst Salary Cap Situations in 2021” in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

What do you think?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Written by Mauricio Rodriguez

I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.

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  1. This reduction in cap means we will see some surprise cuts for sure. One name to mind is Tyron Smith. although he’s a future HoF he has missed 3 games each the last few season’s. I can see him getting cut. The way the cap is gonna be set next year we would have to do many surprise cuts to keep Dak. Which is why I wouldnt be shocked to see a trade

    • I don’t see us cutting Tyron Smith…. He’s too good to let go!! He may miss a few games a season, but I’d rather have him play for us for 13 games a season than to not have him play for us at all!! I do agree there mite be some surprise cuts, but I don’t think Tyron Smith will be one of them!! Plus It would be stupid to cut somebody like him when we could trade him for draft capital!! Players of his caliber don’t get cut most of the time…. If they’re dropped from a team, chances are it’s cause they’ve been traded!! You would have to be an idiot to just straight up cut a player as good as Tyron Smith!! So again…. He’s not getting cut!!

      • More of the same for this football team under bad management for what the last 31 years under Jerry Jones??? If u dont overpay Ezekiel Elliott and Demarcus Lawrence and also getting ready to overpay “i can beat losing teams but suck against winning teams” Dak Prescott then maybe you wouldnt be in cap hell. But then that just wouldn’t be Jerry Jones now would it???

  2. They won’t trade or cut him. Do you see what good LT’s are making? Tyron Smith’s salary is a bargain. More likely they extend him to create room. And if they sign long term with Dak they can keep his cap hit at $10 million or less with the ability to make most his first year into signing bonus which then gets split up over the life of the contract. Add the ability to restructure Cooper, Lawrence, Martin, Smith, Zeke they can resign Dak and still create $30 million in cap space. Granted it hurts future cap space but with new things contracts in couple years they will be fine

  3. Spot on with ur points Kevin ! I’m not sure about how many yrs we could extend for, as he probably only has a few more quality yrs left. But u could be right and they could reup him for a couple of yrs. at a reasonable price. LTs are a precious commodity and very difficult to replace, much like QBs. One of the top 3 LTs in the league the last 10 yrs We do need to start thinking about his replacement though.

  4. My guess would be Collins moving to RT, unless some way, shape, or form another LT prospect falls into our laps. Obviously, we’d still have to fill the RT tackle role, but that could be Conner Williams too. They’ve done a good job building an OL that can handle some contingencies.

  5. Teams generally don’t like players switching positions, but in this case u could be right about Collins He has evolved into one of the best tackles in the league and could probably do well there. Good point and good job of “thinking outside the box”.

  6. This is assuming McCarthy wants to keep Dak. That is no sure thing. Multiple quality QBs signed this year for $25M or less. New contract Salaries will go down next year based upon the lowered cap. Think any other team is going to pay Dak $37M? Plus, don’t discount the value of being the DC starting QB. If will be interesting for sure.

  7. Fair minded post Ben with many excellent points. I know people are eager to run Dak out of town, but these are the BEST available FA QBs in 2021 M. Trubisky (former #2 pick- now benched) C. Newton (probably over the hill but a possibility) and Jacoby Brissett ( my personal favorite who has shown some promise in small sample size). That’s it only 3 QBs! No T Brady no T Bridgewater (who I would have considered last yr) and D Watson who will likely resign with Texan’s. Some of the above QBs will be resigned by the team they are playing for, and since many teams are QB hungry, there could be a bidding war for the others who are at best mediocre. See what I’m getting
    at ? Despite the cap reduction I do think a team will give Dak 37 mi always a team that will overpay and half the teams in the league are looking for a better QB. He’ll get his money. Too bad that’s the most important thing to him I think Dallas is the best place for him and us. I’m still holding out hope we can come to a mutual agreement next yr but I’m not holding my breath. Go back and look at the STARTING QBs in the history of the Super bowl and see how many were signed as FAs very few. 95% were homegrown

    • $37M buys a lot of talent. Also don’t discount Dallas’ back up situation. Dalton will have a year in the system and DiNucci. Jerry has had quite a run with Romo then Dak. He’s a gambler and I don’t doubt he thinks he can hit the trifecta. If not Ben then another guy and Dalton is the perfect bridge guy. I’m not a Dak hater but I think Jerry sees the Goff contract and is scared to overpay a good, not great QB for 4-5 years. Add to that he can roll the dice that no one else will give Dak anything close to what he will pay. Like I said, it’s gonna be interesting!

  8. I love what my cowboys are doing on defense, about time we went out and got some studs on that defense line..We have an offense that will put up plenty points..But like in years of Tony Romo, the defense couldn’t hold a lead, and people blamed Romo.. Wasn’t always his fault, last time I looked, Romo didn’t play cornerback or defense tackle..Now maybe we can hold a lead.

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