Looking to increase their salary cap flexibility before the 2016 regular season begins, the Dallas Cowboys restructured the contract of stalwart tight end Jason Witten.
The move coverts $5.5 million of Witten’s base salary into a signing bonus. It gives the Cowboys around $3 million in additional cap space for this year.
Cap space during the season can have several uses. It may go towards contract incentives that certain players hit. It can also be used to sign free agent help if injuries or other issues arise. If unused, the money carries over into next year’s cap space.
The downside of restructuring is that it decreases the team’s flexibility and cap relief in later seasons should they want to release player. For a guy like Jason Witten, though, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Dallas would ever want to let him go. That makes it much easier to pull the trigger.
Witten’s deal expires after the 2017 season. Next year he will count $12 million against the Cowboys salary cap. It’s a high number, but his leadership role on the team still offsets any diminishing performance.
At worst, Witten is still a highly productive and efficient receiver. Whether Tony Romo or Dak Prescott is playing quarterback for the Cowboys in 2017, they will both be happy to have Jason Witten in their corner.