How the Dallas Cowboys Can Get All of These Contracts Done

    The key word buzzing around the right now is contracts. From to to to , and with other young stars on the horizon, the team is looking for ways to hold on to as much of its talent as possible. Today, given the concerns that are out there, I wanted to show you just how possible it really is.

    According to both Over The Cap and Spotrac, the Cowboys currently have about $23 million in cap space in 2019. That alone is a significant chunk to help get these deals done.

    Another key factor is the amount of cap space that should be opened up by the end of the season. Just consider the following players with expiring contracts:

    Another big gain will come from Tyrone Crawford's contract. Dallas could save $7 million this year if he doesn't make the 2019 roster, and $8 million is if he's released in 2020.

    There's also $5.5 million in dead money from the contracts of previously released players such as , , and that will be expiring.

    So now, between current cap space, expiring contracts and dead money, and cutting Crawford, we now have about $73 million to work with in 2020. That's when the large cap hits of any of these extensions will really take effect.

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    We have our available funds, so let's take a quick look at what market value is for our young stars.

    We've heard about $32 million as the average salary on Dak Prescott's new deal, which would match what just got from the Eagles. Ezekiel Elliott wants about $15 million in line with , and Amari Cooper will likely be seeing $18-$19 million based on the contracts of and Odell Beckham.

    For Byron Jones, the top-five CB contracts average about $14-$15 million. So if we add all that up, we come to roughly  $80-$81 million in average salary on these four deals.

    So, working against the $73 million we discussed already, that does create a deficit. But we have yet to consider a crucial detail that many commonly forget.

    Many hear “Ezekiel Elliott seeks over $15 million per year” and don't consider that he already counts $7.9 million against the cap as is. If Zeke gets re-signed, the bump in those first few years is only going to be about $5-$6 million more than the present.

    Amari Cooper already counts $13.9 million against the cap. Byron Jones counts $6.3 million and Dak Prescott counts $2.1 million. All together, these four guys have a composite cap hit of $30.2 million.

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    So, with this taken into consideration, we really only need about $50 million to get these players extended. And considering the first few years of the contracts will generally come in below the average, the actual amounts needed for 2019 and 2020 would be a little below that.

    Now we're not talking about a deficit anymore. Dallas would still have well over $20 million from that $73 million we put together earlier, perhaps using some of it to it re-sign players like Randall Cobb or Robert Quinn depending on how they perform in 2019.

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    Of course, there will be casualties. Dallas will likely have to let OT La'el Collins leave in and hope that either promoting Cam Fleming or moving to right covers them from 2020.

    It also means not hanging on to veterans like Jason Witten or Sean Lee beyond this year unless they are willing to take major pay decreases. But that could be a moot point if either retires, which is fairly likely for both.

    Now you may be wondering why, if this looks so easy, we're even having the current issue with Ezekiel Elliott's . Why not just pay him if it's so doable?

    The issue isn't just the 2019 or . The Cowboys have to think about the future for players like , Leighton Vander Esch, , , and every other young player they're projecting will deserve a second contract in the coming years.

    It is by those future years that the cap hits on Zeke, Byron, and others could potentially restrict your activity with other player. But by then, there are all sorts of new realities that could also be at work

    How many more years will Tyron Smith be viable at his high cap hit? And what will future increases to the league's salary cap, plus a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2020, mean for the financial landscape of the NFL down the road?

    Also, in a few years, how comfortable will Dallas be to dip back into the restructuring business with contracts of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, , and others? It's a dangerous game, but a way to create salary cap room if necessary.

    ~ ~ ~

    The bottom line here is that everything is possible. There is way more cap space out there than many would lead you to believe, and especially if the Cowboys continue filling their team with quality draft picks as they have in recent years.

    The issue with Zeke is about a lot of things. It's about the overall value of the RB position, which the NFL seems to be collectively trying to keep from exploding after the recent deals for Gurley, David Johnson, and . It's also about Elliott's personal and Dallas wanting some assurances if he finds himself in the Commissioner's office anymore.

    Money is an issue but only because these mitigating factors. From a purely fiscal standpoint, Dallas CAN pay Elliott. Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott, Byron Jones, and any other young stud they want to hang on to over the next several years.

    Just give it time, and don't let mainstream sports media fool you into overly worrying.

    Jess Haynie
    Jess Haynie
    Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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    Mike Reliable

    Quit drinking the Kool-Aid.

    Spend all that money one these few and have nothing left for the rest of the team. How about we pay these guys what they are worth.

    Let’s not pay Elliott for the last 3 years, he’s already been paid for that. You have to pay him for his estimated future production, which as we know, declines as a RB gets older and beat up (He is no Barkly btw, he’s good… but not that good). Fine him, take away part of his signing bonus, and insist he show up and do his job and fulfill his contract or let him quit football — he has a choice.

    Dak hasn’t proven anything, except that he’s on a really good football team. Play some without Elliot, have success, and next year if he’s actually progressed then pay him the $32 million a year and if not, franchise tag him for a year and give him every opportunity to grow. Next coach if Garrett is let go, may not want Prescott (maybe Lincoln Riley??, IDK).

    Amari Cooper played lights out last year and save Dallas & Dak’s rear.. Many bad throws he went and got, Dak’s accuracy was still an issue, but Cooper made up for it. He’s no OBJ, or Michael Thomas, but he’s pretty dang good.. Pay him his $18 million a year ($1million more than I had hoped thanks to the Saints, lol).

    Don’t leverage the teams entire future on just a couple of guys, people get hurt, you know what I mean. There is insurance players can purchase just in case.

    Christopher Puckett

    Dallas seems to have some leverage on Zeke because he won’t get credit for a year towards free agency if he sits out. Having said that, Zeke is the most valuable player in the discussion. After him, I might pay Byron Jones second despite him not creating turnovers. Dak has only proven so far that he can do well when everything is optimal and is average otherwise. I’d delay paying him and franchise tag if necessary. If we were playing Madden, I’d package him and La’el (who I wish we could afford to keep) and try to get the draft pick of the worst team to try to draft Tua Tagliova. As is, Dallas may be stuck with Dak for a while but you don’t pay top-5 money to a guy who needs everything else to be optimal to win. You pay that money to Brady who can win with anyone playing the skill positions.

    Christopher Puckett

    Amari is excellent. He deserves to be paid as well.


    I think Dak is worth every penny, he is first in line, Zeke can wait his turn.

    Big Red fan in big D

    I say let Zeke sit out ( and NOT gain a year towards his free agency), if our O line is back( we will see) then a lessor back could do the job and then Zeke will have to decide how long he can not make money?? Also, has anyone wondered if Jerry might be pissed off, since he backed this guy everytime he screwed up. Personally, I think Jerry is mad for this stunt Zeke is pulling..again, just my opinion.
    Further, wait until after the year is done to do the Dak deal, because he could suck, OR Jerry could fire Garrett. If that sceanerio happens, he is going to have to find someone to coach a quarterback who may not work for the new guys scheme. That could be a tough find.
    And finally, I could be completely off base on all of it!

    Anthony Maerz

    You can’t just say wait on Dak to prove it again this year then pay him 32 mil next year. The qb market just keeps raising every year we wait to extend him. Being the Cowboys qb takes more pressure than any other position in all American sports and Dak has the right mentality to take it on and is one of the most motivated players I’ve ever seen. Pay him now before its 40 mil a year next year.

    Gabriel Macias

    I love watching the game of football and I know it is a very dangerous game, but it is a choice to seek, have this career and a privilege to get paid to play a game. I don’t ever remember having a job in my lifetime where I could tell someone I’m worth this much and if you won’t pay me what I say, I won’t come to work.