The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of big personnel decisions ahead in the 2018 offseason. Thankfully, not all of their moves will be as complicated as negotiating a pay cut with Dez Bryant or long-term extensions with Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence.
Two easy, obvious moves the Cowboys can make involve some bench guys who take up more cap space than they’re worth at this point. Tight end James Hanna and defensive end Benson Mayowa can each earn Dallas $2.75 million in cap space if released.
Cutting Hanna would generate just $750k in dead money. Mayowa’s penalty would be $1.1 million, but the cap savings we just gave you come after the penalty. In total, releasing both players would give Dallas $5.5 million in immediately usable money.
With free agency opening March 14th, these likely moves should come in the next week.
Both players are up against younger, more valuable assets on the depth chart and the potential influx of new talent. Mayowa is already behind DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton, and Tyrone Crawford at defensive end. We should also see Charles Tapper return from injury this year, and perhaps even Randy Gregory if he’s reinstated by the league.
Similarly, James Hanna has Geoff Swaim and Rico Gathers pushing for whatever work is available behind veteran leader Jason Witten. Also, there are many predicting that the Cowboys could draft a tight end in the early rounds of April’s draft.
While Hanna and Mayowa have both played solid roles at times for the Cowboys, there’s no real upside to them at this point. The Cowboys already have prospects who need more playing time, making these veterans far more valuable as cap casualties.
$5.5 million is no small amount of money, either. It could be a good first-year salary for a veteran starting contract. Alternatively, it could fund roughly the entire 2018 draft class.
Far more difficult cuts lay ahead, but these two underrated moves will free up a nice chunk of change the Cowboys can use to retool for the upcoming season.