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Don’t Believe What You Read About The Dallas Cowboys

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Cowboys Blog - Don’t Believe What You Read About The Dallas Cowboys 2

The Dallas Cowboys are NOT in Salary CAP hell.  Yes, that’s right.  Despite what you read about how badly the Cowboys are looking, there is a good reason that Stephen Jones keeps saying that it isn’t a problem.  That is because…

It isn’t a problem.

 

One of the things that is hard for both fans and most sports writers to wrap their heads around is that the process of restructuring contracts to create more Salary CAP room is a design feature of the current financial system in the NFL.  It is not a design flaw.  And in recent years, the Cowboys have gotten a little better at how they award contracts.  They PLAN for certain contracts to be restructured, especially early in a big contract.  They add clauses to the contracts which allow for restructuring to occur, almost automatically.

Case in point:

The Cowboys can easily get under the Salary CAP by restructuring the contracts of only 3 players they signed to extensions just last year – Tony Romo, Sean Lee, and Orlando Scandrick.

This week, the Cowboys cut a few players, and some people looked at it as them trying to shed salaries.  But, the 4 players they cut – DE Everett Brown, DT Corvey Irvin, and OG’s Ray Dominguez and Jeff Olson all could have been kept on the roster if the Cowboys really wanted them around.  Those 4 cuts only amounted to a total Salary CAP savings of $545,000

These were NOT salary CAP cuts. These were guys the Cowboys signed in the middle of last year’s injury plagued season that they had no interest in keeping on their team.   The Cowboys have defensive lineman Ben Bass and Tyrone Crawford coming back from injury, and have signed Caesar Rayford and Tristan Okpalaugo to their roster since the season ended.  They had enough time to look at both Irvin and Brown, and decided that neither player was in their long-term plans.  And although the Cowboys currently only have two guards left on their roster (hint: expect the Cowboys to draft a Guard), both Dominguez and Olson were in training camp a year last summer, and neither has shown themselves capable of playing at an NFL level.  All of these players were cut because they lack talent.

There is one planned cut that can be seen as a true salary CAP cut. Cutting Phil Costa will save $1,005,000 million off the Salary CAP  - almost twice the savings of the other 4 players combined.

After those 5 players get cut, the Cowboys will have 57 players under contract for 2014 for a total of $141,314,594.  But since only the top 51 salaries count against the salary cap, the salary CAP hit for the top 51 players is currently $138,719,594.

The NFL has announced that the salary CAP for 2014 will be $133 million; but, that doesn’t include the $1,280,693 of 2013 Rollover space the Cowboys have left over from 2013.  So, the Cowboys “Adjusted Salary CAP” for 2014 will be $134,280,693.  That is only $4,438,901 OVER the CAP, not the $25 million that keeps getting reported.

But wait!  What about the DEAD money from players who’ve been cut in past seasons? The Cowboys have 20 players no longer on the team that they will take CAP hits for in 2014.  The bottom 16, mostly due to left over signing bonuses of undrafted free agents, amount to only $406,439.  The majority of that is Phil Costa’s $225,000 DEAD money hit.  The top 4 DEAD money CAP hits do hurt because all are over $1 million each.  Ratliff, Livings, Spears, and Lissemore together add up to a 2014 CAP hit of $11,628,000.  Ouch.

When you add the CAP hits for DEAD money ($12,034,439) to the actual amount in salaries ($4,438,901) that are OVER the Salary CAP, the Cowboys need to shed 16,473,340 to get under the CAP – still considerably less than the $25 million most news outlets are reporting.

And here is how the PLANNED restructuring of the Romo, Lee and Scandrick Contracts gets the Cowboys under the salary CAP before March 11th rolls around.

Tony Romo

  • Current Salary - $13,500,000
  • New Salary - $955,000
  • Restructure Bonus - $12,545,000 prorated for 5 years at $2,509,000 per year
  • Salary CAP savings - $10,036,000

Sean Lee

  • Current Salary - $5,500,000
  • New Salary - $730,000
  • Restructure Bonus - $4,770,000 prorated for 5 years at $954,000 per year
  • Salary CAP savings - $3,816,000

Orlando Scandrick

  • Current Salary - $4,500,000
  • New Salary - $730,000
  • Restructure Bonus - $3,770,000 prorated for 5 years at $754,000 per year
  • Salary CAP savings - $3,016,000

 

Those 3 Restructured Contracts, contracts which already have restructuring clauses built into them because the Cowboys ALWAYS planned on restructuring them this season, create a total of $16,868,000 in CAP space, getting the Cowboys $394,660 UNDER the CAP by March 11th.  And remember, the Cowboys already have 57 players under contract.  Most of the teams which are way under the CAP have only 30-40 players under contract for 2014.

So, while it’s not ideal for the Cowboys to have to restructure these contracts, the NFL is not played in an ideal world.  This is not Utopia.  Every team deals with restructuring the big contracts of its star players.  It is part of the financial landscape of today’s NFL.  And all of this is before we even begin to talk about renegotiating DeMarcus Ware’s contract, restructuring Brandon Carr, or making Miles Austin a June 1st cut.  Don’t be fooled by the headlines.  The Cowboys are more than capable of getting under the salary CAP, and still have plenty of room to maneuver to find the room to negotiate contract extensions for its younger star players like Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray.



Engineer, writer and private NFL analyst, he began developing his own statistical analysis program in 1998 to measure and predict the performance of NFL teams. Scott is also a self-taught expert on the NFL salary CAP, analyzing how Cowboys contracts affect the team this year and in future seasons. Mr. Harris' skill lies in digging inside the numbers to explain which statistical measurements matter, and which do not. Mr. Harris developed his skill at writing for his college newspaper, and had his own politically oriented blog for several years. A passionate fan of the Cowboys, Scott uses his skill with numbers and writing to provide a unique viewpoint of the Cowboys and the NFL as a whole. He is a native of the DFW metroplex and currently resides in Golden, Colorado designing environmental controls systems for data centers, high rise buildings, college campuses, and government bases.

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5 Comments
  • Matt Atencio

    Where are you getting this information? How does one expect for either of the three players to take a pay cut so significant? How does Romo go from$120 million to only $12 million?

    • Scott Harris

      Matt,

      Rory explained it correctly. The player does not take a cut in pay. Instead, they get an immediate payout by signing their restructured contract, and a reduced salary during the year.

      Imagine you get paid $1000 per week ($52000 per year). Your boss comes to you and says he wants to give you a check for $46,800 today, and then pay you only $100 per week for the next year. You still get $52000 for the year, but you get a big check up front instead of waiting for each weekly paycheck. That is how it works for the player.

      • mattatencio93

        Ah, that makes a lot more sense. Thanks much

  • Rory M

    Matt – none of these players are taking a “pay cut” – they are essentially having their base salary adjusted to a lower “cap friendly” value, while the difference is being put into a signing bonus – money they see right away. The reason they change base salary to signing bonuses is because they can spread the “hit” out over multiple years of the contract.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    As Scott Harris, our resident capologist, predicted yesterday Lee, Scandrick, Romo all restructured. Decisions on miles and ware looming— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) March 4, 2014

Star Blog

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Star Blog

Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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Star Blog

Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

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Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

The Dak Stats

Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.

Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.

When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.

Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.

Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.

Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.

Questions Still Loom

This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.

But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles -167
  2. Dallas Cowboys +350
  3. New York Giants +650
  4. Washington Redskins +750

NFC East Week 1 Predictions

The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.

The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.

The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.

The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.

This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.



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