Dallas Cowboys Rumors & News

Cowboys Free Up Cap Space

The Cowboys entered Monday with the worst cap situation in the NFL for 2017, but that’s no longer the case. The club has restructured the contracts of two of its top players, All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith and All-Pro center Travis Frederick, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The changes will save Dallas $17.3MM and take the team under the projected $168MM cap for next season.

Tyron Smith

In order to make the contracts of Smith and Frederick less onerous, the Cowboys converted approximately $21MM of the $24MM they’re due in 2017 into signing bonuses, according to Archer. Smith had been set to rake in a $10MM base salary, while Frederick was slated to earn over $14MM.

This is now the second straight year in which the Cowboys have reworked Smith’s contract. Smith, who signed an eight-year, $98MM extension in 2014, ranks first among left tackles in total value and third in both yearly average and guarantees ($22MM-plus). The 26-year-old has started in all 92 appearances since the Cowboys selected him ninth overall in the 2011 draft, and he’s coming off a season in which he ranked 16th among Pro Football Focus’ 78 qualified tackles.

As was the case with Smith, Frederick was hugely instrumental in the success the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott– and Ezekiel Elliott-led offense experienced in 2016. Frederick inked a six-year, $54.6MM extension with $18.2MM fully guaranteed last August, and currently leads all centers in total value and yearly mean. He’s second only to the Falcons’ Alex Mack in guarantees. The 31st pick in 2013, Frederick hasn’t missed a game or a start in four years with the Cowboys. The 25-year-old was PFF’s second-best center in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Would Likely Give Tony Romo Post-June 1 Designation

  • Tony Romo is expecting the Cowboys to release him, and if the team does cut the quarterback, the likelihood is that it will assign him a post-June 1 designation, writes Todd Archer of ESPN.com. That would give the Cowboys $14MM in cap space for 2017, far more than the $5.1MM they’d get if they were to release Romo without the June designation. Dallas wouldn’t gain that $14MM in spending space until June 2, well after the busiest portion of the offseason, but Archer contends the club could put the money to use to sign draft picks, add free agents during the year and even carry over into 2018, among other possibilities.

Would Cowboys Consider RT With R1 Pick?

  • Would the Cowboys taking an offensive lineman with their No. 28 overall pick sound crazy given their line’s status as arguably the NFL’s best? However, right tackle Doug Free is entering a contract year, and Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes the team could consider Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk with its top pick in a developmental scenario. Archer expects Free to return for the 2017 season. If nothing else, cutting Free — and saving $5MM — would create a hole not easily filled in a weaker tackle market. But the 33-year-old blocker might be entering his final season in Dallas. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft (Insider link) has Ramczyk going to the Seahawks at No. 26 and the Cowboys taking Florida cornerback Teez Tabor.
  • The Bears have infiltrated a Las Vegas sports book’s top picks for Tony Romo‘s landing spot. Sportsbook.ag’s R.J. Bell (via the Dallas Morning News) projects the Bears as Romo’s fourth-most likely 2017 employer — behind the Texans, Broncos and Cowboys. Houston’s emerged as the favorite despite the organization’s known stance being to avoid getting involved for Romo. Interestingly, the Chiefs are down at No. 5 after being viewed as a primary destination. ESPN.com also projected a Bears/Romo partnership as being more likely than many believe.

Tony Romo Open To Facilitating Trade

While the ideal outcome for Tony Romo‘s chances at starting for a contending team is a Cowboys release, the 15th-year veteran knows he could possibly fetch his team a Day 2 pick in a trade. The likely departing quarterback is open to the possibility of adjusting his contract to help facilitate a trade, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports.

This adjustment, though, would be designed to help Romo land with a contending team. But the veteran passer does not have a mandate about how this plays out. He’s not demanding anything from the Cowboys and does not plan to do so, per La Canfora. Jerry Jones and his previous starting quarterback have not sat down to discuss this complex situation yet, but La Canfora notes this dialogue will likely occur before the Cowboys’ contingent leaves for the Combine early next month.

Romo expects to be released, but La Canfora notes neither side knows how this saga will unfold at this juncture. The four-time Pro Bowler will carry a league-high $24.7MM cap figure in 2017 and is signed through 2019, with cap numbers of $25.2MM and $23.7MM in ’18 and ’19 set. It would take plenty of adjusting to get prospective quarterback-needy contenders to agree to a trade, though, especially considering Romo’s now-extensive injury history.

However, La Canfora notes the since-demoted passer is “working out like a demon” to be ready physically this offseason. Romo has not started in a game since November of 2015 and played in just one in 2016.

The Cowboys could be aiming for a third-round pick for Romo, but two of the teams that would fit the profile for a possible suitor — the Broncos and Texans — are not said to be interested in a trade. The Broncos, though, could be interested in signing the 36-year-old QB if he hits the free agent market. Their public commitment to Alex Smith notwithstanding, the Chiefs may be on the lookout here as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Machota: Cowboys Likely To Draft DE Early

  • In his latest chat with fans, Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News says that he expects the Cowboys to select a defensive end with one of their first two picks in this year’s draft. The 2017 class has a fair amount of talent at the edge rushing positions, so Dallas should be able to land a quality prospect even though they are picking near the end of each round.

Darren McFadden Could Return To Cowboys

Tony Romo Expecting To Be Cut By Cowboys

We’ve heard quite a bit of Tony Romo trade speculation in recent months, but the veteran quarterback sees things playing out differently. Romo is expecting to be released and he believes he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL for two or three more seasons, a source tells Ed Werder of ESPN.com (on Twitter).Tony Romo

Romo, who turns 37 in April, has not played a full season of football since 2014. His current contract calls for him to earn a $14MM base salary in 2017 and it would be challenging for the Cowboys to convince another team to give up draft picks in addition to paying out that deal. Beyond that, Romo presumably wants to choose his own landing spot rather than leave it to chance. Given his close relationship with owner Jerry Jones, it seems possible that he could secure his release.

One recent report claimed the Bills have “significant” interest in Romo, but the veteran might want to join a team that is closer to contention. The Broncos have been frequently mentioned as a possibility while the nearby Texans are not interested.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboy Notes: Williams, Church

  • The Cowboys coaching staff is “much higher” on free agent Terrance Williams than the rest of the league, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, who notes Dallas’ decision-makers respect Williams’ consistency and availability. Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones has already expressed an interest in re-signing Williams, who finished the 2016 campaign with 44 receptions for 594 yards and four touchdowns, but Archer believes another club with more financial wiggle room will likely swoop in and steal Williams away from Dallas.
  • Pending free agent safety Barry Church sounds open to giving the Cowboys some sort of hometown discount, but like most players reaching the open market for the first time, Church wants to capitalize on his next contract. “It’s definitely a business decision, but … the Cowboys … were the team that gave me that gave me the opportunity coming out of the draft, being undrafted,” Church told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Everybody else kind of passed up on me. But it’s definitely a business decision.” Church, 29, managed two interceptions and four passes defensed in 12 games with Dallas last season, and now joins a free agent safety class that includes Eric Berry and Tony Jefferson.

Jones: Cowboys Need Pass Rusher

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn’t mincing words – he wants to add a big-time pass rusher this offseason.

The Cowboys already have some intimidating edge rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, but Jones acknowledged that there’s uncertainty with both players due to their surgery and off-the-field issues, respectively. There’s also Jaylon Smith, but he can’t be counted on after missing his entire rookie season.

Cowboys Have Plenty Of Ways To Clear Cap Space

As Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes, the Cowboys are $11-$13MM over the projected 2017 salary cap, but it will be fairly easy for them to clear space and to give themselves enough room to conduct their offseason business and sign a free agent or three. For instance, they could restructure the deals of Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, and given the relative youth of those two players, such restructures should not hamstring the club in the long run. Dallas could also save a fair amount of money by restructuring Sean Lee‘s deal and giving Jason Witten an extension, and obviously the impending departure of Tony Romo will be a boon to the team’s cap situation. As such, the notion that the Cowboys are in “cap hell” and will be forced to be bystanders in free agency is more of a myth than reality.