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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving
En una agencia libre muy callada de parte de los Dallas Cowboys, como es costumbre, lo más interesante hasta ahora se revuelve alrededor de un talento increíble en la línea defensiva: David Irving. El joven de la línea defensiva de Dallas recibió un tender de segunda ronda (con un costo de casi tres millones de dólares) de parte de los Cowboys, lo cual significa que vestirá la Estrella Solitaria un año más... ¿o no?
No, no es tan sencillo.
A diferencia de la etiqueta franquicia que recibió DeMarcus Lawrence hace unas semanas, un tender permite a un jugador recibir ofertas de otros equipos. Si Irving llega a recibir una oferta externa, sin embargo, los Cowboys tienen la oportunidad de igualarla.
Pero no sólo eso, sino que si no quieren igualar la oferta, pueden dejar ir al jugador y en cambio, el otro equipo tiene que compensar a los Cowboys con una selección de segunda ronda. Así como el tender de segunda ronda que se le otorgó a David Irving, hay tender de primera ronda o tender de "selección original."
Sin embargo, Irving no fue seleccionado en el NFL Draft, así que esta última opción hubiera tenido poco sentido.
Ahora, pensando en el 2018 y una temporada ya incierta, nos sentamos preguntando: ¿No valía la pena cubrir a Irving con un tender de primera ronda? Al final de cuentas, sólo hay aproximadamente un millón de diferencia entre ambos. Irving es un jugador lleno de talento, y podría llegar a estar entre los mejores en su posición próximamente.
Sin embargo, si somos honestos, es una buena decisión de la administración. Irving ha tenido sus cuantos problemas y quizá este tender ayude a definir su valor en el mercado. Si ningún equipo alrededor de la liga se atreve a ofrecerle un contrato, los Cowboys mejoran su posición en las negociaciones y quien sabe, quizá consigan un acuerdo más amigable para el equipo.
Además, si un equipo decide llevárselo... ¿qué tan malo sería?
Con el pick #19 en la primera ronda del Draft de la NFL, no están en una posición muy cómoda. Como bien algún jugador talentoso como el DT Vita Vea o el WR Calvin Ridley pueden caer a las manos de Stephen Jones, Will McClay y compañía, bien puede estar vacía la tabla.
Con jugadores como el S de Florida State Derwin James o el LB de Georgia Roquan Smith, deberían considerar realizar un trade para subir algunas selecciones y llevarse a uno de estos talentos que no estarán disponibles en el #19.
Con las selecciones globales 19, 50 y una segunda ronda extra que conseguirían por Irving, es fácil visualizar a este equipo dispuesto a hacer un movimiento así el día del Draft.
A pesar de una mala temporada en el 2017, los Dallas Cowboys son un equipo que están cerca de ser contendientes.
Cowboys Free Agency: FB Keith Smith Signing with Raiders
The Cowboys have lost an important role player from the offense as fullback Keith Smith is reportedly signing with the Oakland Raiders.
The #Raiders and FB Keith Smith have agreed to terms on a 2-year worth $4.2million, source said.
Smith, who has been with Dallas for four seasons, was the team's fullback the last two seasons. He started as a linebacker after going undrafted in 2014.
Whether on offense or defense, Keith has been a regular part of the special teams units. The Cowboys' previous special teams coach, Rich Bisaccia, just left this offseason to join the coaching staff in Oakland. That is a likely cause for Smith heading to the Raiders.
Dallas elected not to give Smith a restricted free agent tender, which made sense given his position. Even the lowest tender of $1.9 million would have been too rich for a part-time player.
Even with Keith gone, Dallas may not need to sign a new fullback. Backup RB Rod Smith has experience in that role. They could also use tight ends James Hanna or Geoff Swaim.
Fullback is obviously not the position it used to be in the days of Daryl Johnston, but there are still times you need that lead blocker out of the backfield. Given their reliance on the run game and the success that Ezekiel Elliott had with Keith Smith, Dallas will have to find a solid replacement plan.
Will Another Team Snag David Irving Away From Cowboys?
It was somewhat surprising to learn that the Dallas Cowboys only placed a second-round tender on David Irving. A first-round tender would have likely dissuaded any other team from signing him to a contract and giving up a first-round draft pick, but signing Irving to a contract and giving up a second-draft pick is much more plausible.
I can almost guarantee there are teams around the league right now who are discussing the pros and cons of trying to acquire David Irving. The Dallas Cowboys likely know this which means one of two things:
- The Cowboys are hoping someone sets David Irving's market value with the hopes of matching.
- The Cowboys are willing to part ways with Irving for a second-round draft pick.
There are teams out there who have more salary-cap space than the Dallas Cowboys who could easily sign him to a contract the Cowboys can't match. And, giving up a second-round draft pick for a dominating, yet inconsistent, defensive tackle is probably better than anyone they can draft.
It's not completely out of the realm of possibility Cowboys fans have seen the last of David Irving with a star on his helmet. But, it seems like a risk Dallas is willing to take, whether fans agree or not.
In 2017, David Irving recorded 22 tackles, seven quarterback sacks, six passes defensed, and one forced fumble. He did this after missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension and the last four due to a concussion. That's pretty impressive!
There is no denying Irving's impact when he's on the field, but it's all the other stuff that makes Dallas hesitant to commit fully to the 24-year-old DT.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I know what kind of person David Irving is in the locker room or off the field, but his past behavior and inconsistencies are concerning. Yes, he has immense upside, but that doesn't look as if it's enough for the Dallas Cowboys, at least not yet.
I think this ultimately comes down to the Cowboys not fully trusting David Irving just yet. Placing the second-round tender on him is more of a "prove it" kind of deal, if another team doesn't sign him away. The Cowboys probably want to see he has his head on straight and more consistency before fully committing. It's completely understandable.
It just doesn't seem as if David Irving is in the long-term plans for the Dallas Cowboys right now. I think they would be perfectly content receiving a second-round draft pick, but that decision might not sit well with a lot of Cowboys fans.
There is really no way of knowing if another NFL team will snag David Irving away, but I think the possibility of that happening is pretty high.
Will David Irving remain in Dallas in 2018?
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