You've probably already read somewhere that restructuring Dez Bryant's contract is one easy way the Dallas Cowboys can improve their 2017 salary cap issues. While I have no issue with this when it comes to some other players, moving money on Bryant's deal could wind up being more trouble than it's worth.
Right now, Dez is scheduled to count $17 million against the Cowboys' 2017 cap. He has $25 million left in dead money, the guaranteed bonuses that have to be paid out through the life of the contract. His deal expires after the 2019 season.
Dez Bryant Has Red Flags
Dez Bryant turns 29-years-old in November. He has missed 10 games over the last two seasons and played hurt, with limited effectiveness, in others. He still has moments and whole games where he looks like an elite receiver, but most Dallas fans would admit that he's not quite as explosive or dominant as in the past.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not here to bash Dez. However, the good of the team always comes first no matter who we're talking about. Restructuring Bryant's contract may be good for Dallas' in the present but could cause problems in the future.
When contracts get restructured, guaranteed money gets pushed into later years to create immediate cap space. That means you lose flexibility in those later years when the cap hits are at their highest. Even if the player isn't performing to the level at which you're paying him, releasing him either doesn't save you anything on the salary cap or even limited savings simply aren't worth the penalty.
Comparison to Tony Romo's Contract
Romo's contract situation is a good example of potential problems. The Cowboys have restructured his deal several times and now can't trade or cut him without a $19 million penalty. Granted, Dallas didn't expect to be in this position so soon with Romo. Still, this shows the value of preserving your flexibility for when unexpected things happen.
Now, compare that to Jay Cutler and the Bears. Despite his being signed through 2020, Cutler's deal only has $2 million left in guaranteed money. The Bears will almost surely be cutting him this offseason and saving $14 million in salary cap space off of the scheduled $16 million cap hit.
Cowboys Need to Preserve Salary Cap Flexibility
Within the next two years the Cowboys will need to give guard Zack Martin a long-term deal. They may also be looking at new deals for guard La'el Collins, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and safety Byron Jones.
Oh, and some kids named Zeke and Dak are going to be needing more money in a few years, too.
Can the Cowboys afford to keep pay Dez like an elite receiver if he continues to decline and miss games? Here's a look at the final three years of Dez Bryant's contract:
- 2017 - $17 million cap hit ($25m dead money)
- 2018 - $16.5 million cap hit ($8m dead money)
- 2019 - $16.5 million cap hit ($4m dead money)
One smart thing that Dallas did was keeping the later years of the deal from having escalating cap hits. Even with that, though, Dez is still currently scheduled to have the highest cap hit of any NFL wide receiver in 2017.
If the contract remains untouched, Dallas can save $8.5 million in 2018 or $14.5 million in 2019 by releasing Bryant. Those numbers will drop significantly if his deal is restructured, limiting the Cowboys' flexibility and the value of parting ways.
Even if he's no longer elite, Dez Bryant will still be a quality starting wide receiver for the next few years. If you were to cut him, replacing him might cost about as much as you'd be saving.
These decisions are never easy and especially when they come to beloved players. Dez means a lot to the team and its fans, but what just happened with Tony Romo is a warning that you should always be prepared for things to change. All it takes is one season for some little-known player to soar up the depth chart and demand a new contract, like Miles Austin in 2009.
Or, like Dez Bryant himself in 2010, you never know when a talented receiver might fall to you in the late first round. Dallas could find Dez's replacement sooner than they think, making it all the more critical to preserve their ability to release him.
~ ~ ~
So, what's the final verdict? To be honest, I don't know if there is a definitive answer at this point. I believe the ideal solution is to try and avoid restructuring Dez Bryant's contract this year if you can.
See how 2017 goes; can Dez stay on the field and maintain a high level of play? If so, perhaps you can do some things in 2018 and 2019 free up salary cap space without the same worries.
However, this March there could be a much-needed pass rusher, defensive back, or some other free agents that the Cowboys want to sign. If you can't make those deals without restructuring Dez Bryant then you simply may not have a choice.
Dallas Cowboys May Sit Atop NFC East for a While
If there's one thing we've learned in the past, it's that NFL seasons are unpredictable. Unknown factors, injuries and unexpected "breakout" players can shift the way we saw the league just a month ago, when we were still watching preseason games on TV. After two weeks of regular season action, Cowboys Nation might be surprised to see their Dallas Cowboys sitting on top of the NFC East, but that's precisely the case. Not only that, but they could remain division leaders for a while...
Now, let's not get carried away here. While the team might be on top right now, they're not even 2-0 and it's only week 3. The Cowboys' offense played well on week 2, but terribly on week 1. It's way too early to judge how this season will go based on what we've seen.
However, there is no denying that they seem to be in a very good position to remain the NFC East front runners in the coming weeks. The Cowboys had more reasons to celebrate last Sunday besides their victory over the New York Giants. Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins suffered losses in their respective games, giving Dallas the opportunity to control their destiny.
As previously mentioned, though, it's only week 3. But the team's next three opponents aren't as scary as they seemed prior to the season's start. Through two weeks of the NFL season, the Cowboys' next three opponents are winless, sharing a combined record of 0-6.
Starting by the Seattle Seahawks, who have been a dominant team in the NFL landscape for a few years now but that simply don't seem like a very threatening opponent right now. The main reason why is their weak offensive line, which I expect the Dallas Cowboys to exploit just like they did with the Panthers and Giants. Russel Wilson is a tougher guy to contain, being one of the best playmakers in the NFL right now, but I trust the defense to handle him. They've done such a good pressuring quarterbacks, I'll trust they will continue to do so.
Next in the calendar will be the Detroit Lions. Through two weeks, they've struggled more than we expected under the reigns of their new head coach, Matt Patricia. On week 1, Matt Stafford threw four interceptions in a game that was in control of the New York Jets all night long. But it's not the Lions' offense that I think the Cowboys will take advantage of, but their poor run defense. They gave up 169 yards on rushing against the Jets on week 1 and 190 last Sunday, when they faced the San Francisco 49ers.
Ezekiel Elliott will have that defense dreaming nightmares before their matchup in week 4.
Finally, on week 5, the Cowboys will face their in-state rival, the Houston Texans. Surprisingly, the Deshaun Watson-led team is 0-2 after facing the New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans. This might be the team that hands the Cowboys their second loss of the season. They have a balanced offense that will pose no challenge for the Cowboys' defense, but this could be a dangerous game for the offense.
The Cowboys will rely on Ezekiel Elliott for this one as well. On the defensive side of the ball, Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie will have to replicate their success versus Odell Beckham, only this time they will be facing Deandre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league.
Even though the Cowboys were terrible in Carolina when they opened their season, the defense has been looking so good that I don't doubt their ability to carry the team to victories for the time being. If the offense continues to improve, then this team might be able to take full advantage of the unexpected head start it got in the NFC East.
I can't say it enough; it's only week 3... but look out. It could take some time before the Cowboys give up that #1 spot in the division.
#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.
Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.
The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.
After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.
Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.
Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.
Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.
The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.
The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.
Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.
- The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
- Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
- Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
- The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.
While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.
This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.
I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.
Kris Richard, the Cowboys X-Factor Against the Seahawks
In the NFL, wins are hard to come by. That is why teams do their due diligence each and every week to try to come up with some advantage, however slight. This week, the Dallas Cowboys may have the biggest advantage they could possibly hope for over their opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, and he goes by the name of Kris Richard.
The hiring of Kris Richard may have been Dallas' biggest offseason move. We have already seen in the first couple of games of the 2018 season the impact he's had on the Cowboys defense. The entire defensive unit has been playing possessed and has pretty much dominated their opponents. I believe Richard deserves the majority of the credit.
But this week is different. The Dallas Cowboys travel to Seattle for a Sunday afternoon game against the Seahawks, who are a tough opponent when playing at home. History hasn't always been kind to the Cowboys when playing on the road in Seattle.
In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Tony Romo doesn't still have nightmares about playing in Seattle. A mishandled snap on a routine 19 yard field goal attempt ended up costing the Cowboys a playoff victory in 2007. Then he sustained the back injury that would ultimately end his career in a meaningless preseason game against the Seahawks in 2016.
To say history hasn't been kind to the Cowboys in Seattle would probably be an understatement. But still, that's where they're heading for this Week 3 matchup.
Luckily, I believe the Dallas Cowboys have an ace in the hole in 2018. I think their new Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach, Kris Richard, is going to be the X-Factor. Who could give you more inside information than someone who spent the last eight years with Seattle as both a coach and a player than Richard?
Kris Richard should know just about all of the ins and outs about the Seattle Seahawks, especially on the defensive side of the ball since he served as their Defensive Coordinator the previous two seasons before joining the Cowboys. But, his knowledge of their offense could prove to be invaluable as well.
Richard has seen the Seahawks offense and Russell Wilson on a daily basis in practice firsthand. He should have a very good understanding of not only their tendencies, but what types of plays they run out of different formations. It should be just like having a spy within their own huddle.
Now, having inside information is one thing, but executing the game plan is something different entirely. Kris Richard can possibly predict with high probability exactly what the Seahawks plan on doing, but it falls on the Cowboys players as to execute the game plan.
In the end, this game will ultimately come down to which team executes better on the field Sunday afternoon. The Dallas Cowboys may have an X-Factor in Kris Richard, but he's not the one suiting up against the Seahawks. It all falls on the player's shoulders, as it always has.
Do you think Kris Richard can be the Cowboys X-Factor against the Seahawks?
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