June 1st is a scary date for a lot of NFL veteran players with high salary cap hits. For the 2019 Dallas Cowboys, Defensive Lineman Tyrone Crawford is the most at-risk of losing his job. Will the team’s other talent and financial needs force Crawford off the roster?
For players with more than one year left on their contracts, the June-1st turning point allows teams to release them and split some of the dead money over two seasons. It falls about one month after the draft, where a team’s depth and needs may have changed dramatically.
The NFL also allows for two players to be designated as June-1st cuts even if they’re released earlier in the offseason. The team doesn’t get the cap space until June, but the player gets a chance to find a new home during peak free agency. It’s a way for teams to try to do something positive for the player despite the early termination of their contract.
Crawford has one of the highest current cap hits for Dallas at $10.1 million. He is behind Pro Bowlers DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, and our three stud offensive linemen. While a solid and versatile player and team leader, Tyrone is overpaid for his overall value.
However, despite the cap hit, Tyrone Crawford appeared set to return in 2019 even after free agency. While the acquisition of veteran Robert Quinn likely took away of reps at defensive end, Crawford still factored as an important part of the rotation at defensive tackle.
But then the Cowboys used their highest draft pick this year, 58th overall, to select DT Trysten Hill from Central Florida. This big move brings Crawford’s job security into question.
Along with drafting Hill, Dallas also signed the Texans’ Christian Covington to play DT for them. These new players join Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, and Daniel Ross in forming a strong group of young players for the interior defensive line.
That projected depth could push the Cowboys to go ahead and let Tyrone Crawford go now. He’s been one of their captains and a model citizen for a long time; the kind of player you want to give as good a chance as possible to find a good landing spot before training camps begin.
Dallas saves $7 million in cap space this year by shedding Crawford’s contract. It would push just $1.1 million of dead money onto the 2020 cap.
That cap space could be used for a lot of different things. If the Cowboys are serious about getting new deals done with players like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones, that would be a nice chunk to put towards those goals.
Of course, Dallas could hang on to Tyrone through camp and preseason and then make the move at final cuts. That would be the more cold-blooded move, leaving Crawford in a far worse position to catch on with a new team right with the regular season just about to begin.
The Cowboys aren’t afraid to make a business decision, but we know they like to try to do right by their veterans when possible. Making Tyrone Crawford a June-1st cut would be that kind of merciful move.
All that said, Crawford may be here for all of 2019. Dallas could easily decide to keep him over a prospect like Daniel Ross, or perhaps create a roster spot by trading or cutting Taco Charlton.
But in this game of defensive line musical chairs, it seems someone is going to be in trouble when the music stops. Given his cap hit, Tyrone Crawford is one of the most likely to lose.