Yesterday the NFL and the NFLPA announced their agreement on a salary cap “ceiling' for 2022 of $208.2 million. What does this figure, a potential major increase over previous projections, mean for the Dallas Cowboys now and next season?
You've probably already seen articles about Dallas having one of the worst cap situations in the league for 2022. Doom and gloom projections that showed the Cowboys anywhere from roughly $24-$34 million over the cap have cycled since QB Dak Prescott got his massive new deal last March.
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a $208.2 million salary cap ceiling for 2022, per source.
There is no cap floor as of now. The sides agreed last August to spread the COVID-related revenue shortfall from 2020 over several years, and the cap dropped to $182.5M this year.
Hopefully you've also seen the work of various Cowboys writers explaining that the team has several ways to deal with that problem. There is a lot of room in Dak's contract, plus those of WR Amari Cooper, DE DeMarcus Lawrence, G Zack Martin, and others for restructuring and creating sufficient salary cap space to get back in the black in 2022.
Plus, if needed, the Cowboys can make some business decisions on the contracts of LB Jaylon Smith, CB Anthony Brown, and some other potential cap casualties next year.
All of this was before yesterday's news about the $208.2 cap ceiling. The recent “cap hell” projections were based on a 2022 salary cap of around $192.5 million; a $10 million increase from the official 2021 figure of $182.5 million.
The NFL's salary cap has generally gone up by about $10-$11 each year for a while now. 2021 saw it go down due to lost revenues in 2020 from the COVID-19 pandemic, and projections for 2022 were understandably conservative.
But after inking significant new television deals and projecting a return to full stadium attendance in 2021, the league appears to be recovering nicely. However, with some of this still left to be seen, that's why the $208.2 million is only a “ceiling” and not an official cap number at this time. The actual amount won't be declared until probably sometime next March.
No matter what the 2022 salary cap finally turns out to be, the Cowboys will still have one of the highest amounts of contract commitments of all 32 teams. But if the cap comes in closer to that $208.2 million than the $192.5 projection, that's a big chunk of the deficit wiped away for Dallas.
That means less restructuring, less need for cap casualties, and less excuses for Stephen Jones to be miserly in free agency.
While the focus is on 2022, the news could still have some bearing this season as well. It may allow the Cowboys to not be as focused on creating rollover cap space and perhaps impact 2021 roster decisions.
Going back to March, the assumption that the league's 2021 revenue and, by extension, the 2022 salary cap would bounce back has always been there. You could see the writing on the wall in how Dallas structured Prescott's contract and positioned itself strategically for the coming years.
For some, yesterday's news is more a confirmation than information. Whatever the case, it's a positive step for the Dallas Cowboys and indicates that their salary cap situation in 2022 won't be nearly as bad as advertised.