With 2022 free agency opening next Wednesday, it's no surprise that the dominoes are already starting to fall. Yesterday saw several big developments throughout the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys were among the teams making news.
The biggest item was Tight End Dalton Schultz getting the franchise tag. While this is being reported as likely just a placeholder amid contract negotiations, it eats up $10.9 million of cap space until a long-term deal is reached. The impact on Dallas' other offseason goals is far from minor.
With Schultz getting the tag, Defensive End Randy Gregory will now likely become an unrestricted free agent next week. The Cowboys are reportedly pursuing a new contract with Gregory but elected not to protect him with the franchise tag, which would've cost nearly $18 million for a defensive end.
To be able to afford these moves and others, Dallas took the unsurprising steps of restructuring Dak Prescott and Zack Martin's contracts. Neither of these franchise fixtures took a pay cut; the restructure converts base salary into bonus money and actually increases their job security in future seasons.
The Cowboys have restructured the contracts of Dak Prescott and Zack Martin. These moves were expected. They will combine to create about $22 million in salary cap space for the upcoming season
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) March 8, 2022
Even with this move Dallas will still have to be judicious in its free agency moves. Big decisions are still coming on potential cap casualties like Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Anthony Brown. Additional cap space will be needed to re-sign Gregory, Michael Gallup, and other key free agents.
Cowboys punter Bryan Anger is considered unlikely to return to Dallas after his franchise-record 44.6 net average in 2021, sources said. He signed a minimum $1.075M contract last year and made first career Pro Bowl. With his market on rise, team likely going value shopping again.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 8, 2022
The Cowboys may already have next year's punter under contract in Hunter Niswander. He spent the year on injured reserve following a preseason back injury. While Anger did provide an upgrade last season, Niswander was solid in 2020 and could be a relative bargain for Dallas returning to the role.
Will today prove to be as eventful for the Cowboys? There are still many questions surrounding the roster and plenty of offseason ahead, but next week's start to free agency means we'll probably get a few more answers in the coming days.