OverTheCap.com editor Jason Fitzgerald joined the Pro Football Focus podcast (listen here) to discuss NFC salary cap situations. A chunk of the two-hour chat was focused on the Cowboys, as Fitzgerald details the team’s current woes and paints an even bleaker future. Highlights:
- The Cowboys are currently $24MM over the salary cap.
- The contracts of Tony Romo and Sean Lee were designed to be restructured, and doing so will bring the excess number down to $13MM or $14MM. “From there, they’ll do what they always do,” said Fitzgerald.“They will restructure, restructure, restructure every player on the roster, they’ll convert base salaries to signing bonus money. In some cases, they’ll add voidable contract years, which essentially are ‘dummy’ years thrown on to the end of the contract just for salary cap purposes to let you lower the cost down, and then at some point in time when their contracts void – automatically – that money will all just accelerate onto the cap in two years from now, three years from now.”
- The team does not have prime candidates to cut for short-term cap relief.
- Fitgerald also criticized the team’s reluctance to cut the chord with high-priced veterans:“They’re the one team that does not have willingness to let go from anyone they consider like a star player. You saw that last year with Anthony Spencer, that, really, they’re making a transition in defense, they have salary cap problems – he’s a player they really should have let walk. Instead, they franchised him for the second year in a row and they just can’t let go. . .And then he got hurt and never played a down, really, for them. This is what happens, is you have a roster like this which is just incredibly high cap charges for everybody on the team and really no escape.”
- Defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who will be 32, began to deteriorate last season, and the day is fast approaching when the team will have to address his exorbitant deal [$16MM cap hit in 2014, $17.5MM in 2015].“Do they restructure him?” asks Fitzgerald. “Which basically means you’re going to be stuck with DeMarcus Ware for a very long time, or do they do the smart thing, which is approach him with a pay cut?”
- Fitzgerald believes if the Cowboys slap the franchise tag on defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and/or restructure Ware’s deal, it portends continued shortsighted spending, insinuating the team either will have refused to change or simply not learned its lesson.
- The roster is littered with too many players on the wrong side of 30, and each restructured deal makes it more difficult to release players.
- The Cowboys’ cap situation is “probably going to be much worse” next year, and Fitzgerald posits the team will eventually have to bite the bullet, a la the Oakland Raiders.“[The Cowboys are] going to have to have one year where they just hit that emergency button, dump a lot of guys, take a $50MM or $60MM “dead money” hit for one year and basically field an expansion roster.”
- And oh by the way, Dez Bryant’s deal is up after 2014.