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How Cowboys Could Create an Additional $40 million in Salary cap Space

Money shouldn’t be a problem for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021.

As things stand right now the Dallas Cowboys currently rank 14th in the league with approximately $24 million in salary cap space after carrying over $25.4 million from last year. That of course is based on the projected 2021 NFL salary cap being around $185 million.

While being under the projected salary cap by $24 million is good having even more money to work with in free agency would be even better. That’s especially true considering the Dallas Cowboys are still trying to extend Dak Prescott long-term, which would cut into that savings quite a bit.

In order to give the Dallas Cowboys as much money to work with this offseason as possible I decided to do a little research. I was pleasantly surprised to discover by making just a few money-saving moves they could potentially create at least an additional $40 million in salary cap space.

Surprisingly enough the Cowboys don’t really have very many players who could be considered salary cap casualties this year who could save them very much money. But, by cutting Anthony Brown they could save $2.75 million and parting ways with both Chris Jones and Greg Zuerlein could save them $2.4 million and $2.2 million respectively.

Although those three moves would create approximately $7 million in salary cap space that’s minimal savings compared to other money-saving moves they can make. Restructuring some of the bigger contracts is where the large potential in savings come into play.

If the Dallas Cowboys were to restructure some of the bigger contracts Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and Ezekiel Elliott are the most likely candidates. That’s not to say restructuring any of these contracts won’t have ramifications in the future, but it is Dallas’ best way to create additional salary cap space is needed.

Restructuring Amari Cooper’s contract would save the Cowboys up to $14.3 million, DeMarcus Lawrence $12 million, Zack Martin $7.4 million, Tyron Smith $7.1 million, and Ezekiel Elliott $6.9 million in salary cap space this season. Add it all up and that equates to approximately $47 million in additional salary cap space.

For arguments sake let’s pretend the Dallas Cowboys make all of these money-saving moves. Once added all up that would give them around $80 million this offseason to work with in free agency. That could easily go towards extending Dak Prescott long-term or signing any free agent to just about any kind of contract this year.

Now, I point all of this out not because I think they will make all of these moves but rather to put the myth to bed that there is such a thing as salary cap hell. There are always money-saving moves that can be made and the Dallas Cowboys are obviously no exception. However, making such moves could have future ramifications as I mentioned earlier.

There’s really no way of knowing what the Dallas Cowboys plan on doing this offseason or if they will make any of these above-mentioned money-saving moves. It will however be interesting to see how they navigate free agency with all of the potential salary cap space they could have at their disposal.

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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  1. Interesting read Brian. Had not idea of these numbers right here. There is wiggle room to address some positions in Free agency like a Safety.

    • Thanks for reading James. There’s always some “wiggle” room teams have to work with. A lot of times it just depends on how willing they are to make these money-saving moves like restructuring contracts.

  2. I’ve read plenty articles stating the Cowboys could soon want out from under the contracts of Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyron Smith, and Ezekiel Elliott (not to mention Jaylon Smith). Restructuring those contracts would be unwise due to the future dead money that would be created from any releases of high-priced, under-performing veterans. Excessive dead money IS future salary cap hell. It’s kicking the can down the road, and like that Fram oil filter man used to say, “you can pay me now or pay me later”.
    P.S. I wonder if Dak ever thinks about his friends and co-workers losing their jobs to make room for him to become even more exorbitantly rich?

    • Folks speculating on releasing Amari Cooper or any of those folks not names Ezekiel Elliott or Jaylon Smith are short-sighted.

      Amari Cooper’s money is fine. He’s still performing a fantastic rate. Lawrence may not have the sack totals, but he’s been dominant as a pass rusher and run defender.

      I agree that you don’t want to restructure Tyron or Zeke. But, I’m not concerned about restructuring Cooper, he doesn’t have any more guaranteed money remaining on his deal after this year, or Zack Martin who should still be able to perform at a high level through the length of his contract.

      Players don’t worry about other players money. In fact, from a union perspective, they all want each other to get as much as possible because it raises the rates for everyone else.

    • In all honesty I think Amari Cooper and D-law are the only two players I would seriously consider restructuring if I were the Cowboys. However, if they want to go all in with Dak Prescott in the hopes of reviewing the Super Bowl they have arguably a three, maybe four, year window to accomplish that. Then they will likely need to start rebuilding, making the dead money less of a problem.

      And, I doubt very many professional athletes think too much about their teammates when negotiating contract extensions. Everybody is out to get theirs while they can.

  3. Big Cowboy, great post. You adroitly pointed out some of the “ramifications” Brian did not expound upon. I read elsewhere that these “RESTRUCTURES” will give less flexibility to the TEAM. In other words, hurt the TEAM’S ability to move forward in a positive way.

    By saying YES, they can find extra cap space, but without looking at all the consequences is like peeling an onion half way. So Cowboys have to jump through hopes and bend over backwards for this one ABOVE AVERAGE PLAYER.

    To answer the question about DP ever thinking about his friends and co-workers, well, I think that may have been an example of a RHETORICAL type question. The man couldn’t care less. This long drawn out contract drama confirms this obvious fact. Despite all the media fawning and aggrandizing over this guy, his true colors are showing through for all to see. GREEDY AND EGOTISTICAL COME TO MIND.

    BTW, the second tag is coming.

  4. I said I’ve read plenty articles written by sportswriter types like you all that put forth those names. Also, I find it hard to believe players don’t worry about other players money. Ask the ones who just got a pink slip.

  5. What I meant was professional sportswriters like John and Brian. Maybe not you two specifically, but other professional sport writers have elaborated on the downside of restructuring all those players mentioned.

  6. The idea of players not thinking of others money and how much would their contract hurt or be a casualty of said player getting contract to others is false

    Once again , I mention that BAD MAN , Tom Brady , just 1 of the many examples of him considering others around him , early on in his career , he made it a requirement in a visa commercial to include his O-Lineman in the commercial , even took less in order to get them in it , and they made money off commercial as well , the guy even before he married Gisele always thought of ” I got to make sure these guys who help me win along the way can stay , instead of going cuz of them being a casulty of me , and continue to help me win games ”

    Brady’s a guy who is just wired differently , wish there was more guys like him , and you see the results , even now , reports are that if Brady signs a extension , he’s willing to give the bucs a pay cut , he’s even changed the mindsets of other players such as Mike Evans , who is also willing to take a pay cut in order to run it back and keep everyone , I highly doubt he would’ve done that before Brady got there

    So now we have Dak , who’s no where near that mindset and we’ll see what results he gets , I’ll opt for that our drought of not being in SB continues till he’s gone

  7. I think for some when they hear restructuring they automatically think gloom and doom. Fact of the matter is all teams restructure contracts at different points.

    The key is to use it on the right players. For a player like Z Martin who is projected to be productive down the line- it makes perfect sense. For a player like Zeke who is declining it doesn’t make sense at all. Use it on the right player and it can be an effective tool to navigate around the cap.

    Moves like that are one of the many important decisions a good GM makes. Wish we had one.

  8. You create your 40 million by releasing Dak Prescott and use the 10th draft pick to select a worthy quarterback!! Need to make wise decision is coming draft and use free agency to select Defensive players and use draft for drafting Offensive Lineman!

  9. And to add to that point , if you create the 40 mill of restructuring and the 40 mill of moving off Dak , get 2 1sts through NE tag , you’d have 80 mill at your disposal , plus then trade one of those first and this year’s first , and you can get 2nd pick with Zach Wilson , and have tons of cap room to put around him

    That is what i’d do if I was GM ,

    their’s your guys way of sticking with Dak and restructuring deals to give boys room to still make player acquisitions , but if the money blows up in your face of moving it back , then we’ll be screwed for sure ,

    either way , Jerry needs to fish or cut bait , enough of this indecision , either you believe Dak is worth what he’s wanting , or not , if not then go my route , if you do believe , then go their route , either way , you got to make a decision

    • That’s pretty much my way of thinking as well. As much as I like Dak I wouldn’t be opposed to a tag and trade scenario.

  10. I have a buddy that’s a Seahawk fan; Russell Wilson makes $34 million and “unhappy” with the offensive play calling..Shi@ or get off the pot!!offer Dak a reasonable offer, if he doesn’t sign BEFORE the Draft>>TRADE to NE for their Number 1@ 15 and a Number 1 next Year>>>Discontent Cowboys fan in Tennessee

  11. Uh if the deadline sticks they need to exclusive tag him by tomorrow. How on earth is a blockbuster non exclusive tag deal gonna happen in 24 hrs? Answer it’s not and it never was. Jerry intended the exclusive tag all along. More madden football fantasy.

    As i said there are select players that can be restructured and it make sense. Going the exclusive tag route is the absolute worst scenario if he doesn’t get signed long term eventually. I just don’t see a scenario where they don’t sign him long term – and Jerry seems uninterested in a tag and trade deal. To lose him and not get some kind of compensation for him – would be another big blunder for Jerry. Say what you want about Dak but he’s a bargaining chip u can’t waste.

  12. Also, offer up the #10th pick and the Number 1from
    NE and trade up to ATL @#4: select a QB that won’t blow up the salary cap. I’d go as far to trading Zeke to a crummy team like the Jets or Bungals for a pai
    Of 3’s and jettison his contract as well.

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