The Dallas Cowboys could be forced into some tough decisions with certain roster members in the coming weeks. With a reduced salary cap in 2021 and a huge financial issue to deal with at quarterback, players who might not normally be at risk could become vulnerable if the team has to create cap space. Veteran Cornerback Anthony Brown is one player who might be targeted.
Brown, a former 6th-round pick, did enough during his first four seasons to earn a new three-year, $15 million contract from the Cowboys in 2020. While never a star, Anthony has been a solid depth option who can play on the outside or in the slot.
That value could be especially important in 2021 as Dallas has CBs Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis both heading into free agency. This leaves Brown and Trevon Diggs as the only corners of consequence currently signed to the roster for next season.
Given this potential personnel shortage we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion in a typical offseason. But the Cowboys’ potential salary cap woes in 2021 have called more things into question than usual.
Brown is scheduled to count $5.75 million against Dallas’ cap this year. There is $3 million in dead money left on the deal, so the Cowboys would get back $2.75 million in cap space if he’s released outright. The savings increase to $4.25 million if he’s a June-1st cut.
That June-1st amount is a sizeable chunk for a player who only appeared on 48% of the team’s defensive snaps last season. Though Brown could have a larger role in 2021 if Awuzie and Lewis both leave, could the Cowboys be forced to choose the cap space over the player?
Remember, June-1st cuts don’t prove their cap space until that calendar date. Cutting Brown would be about providing additional funds to pay Dak Prescott or to help sign the 2021 rookie class to contracts.
I’m focusing on the June 1st provision because I don’t see Dallas cutting Anthony Brown outright. The $2.75 million isn’t enough incentive to lose a solid cornerback in a year when you may need him badly. It would cost that much, if not more, to replace him.
However, let’s say Dallas winds up using their 1st-round pick on Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain II. If that rookie and Trevon Diggs form the new starting tandem, the Cowboys could look to find a cheaper option for the CB3 position and make Brown a cap casualty.
If Dallas does make a move on Brown it likely won’t come until after the draft, or perhaps not even until the actual June 1st date. They probably need to see how the rest of the offseason plays out before they can really assess his expendability.
This leaves Anthony Brown, like so many more NFL players in 2021 than in the past, in a precarious position this offseason.