There have been rumors of the Dallas Cowboys cutting receiver Roy Williams for as long as he’s been a member of the team. Williams’ $5.1 million base salary is too much for the third-best receiver on an NFL team and his $9.5 million cost against the 2011 salary cap is brutal. For that reason, Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones literally cannot afford to cut Williams. Elaboration on the issue can be read below:
Williams has already been paid $26.608 million in guaranteed money. However, that amount is spread out over the life of his contract under the salary cap. This means that Williams may already have his money, but $4.4 million of his guaranteed cash counts against the salary cap each season. There was no salary cap in 2010, so Williams could have been released with no penalty. However, Williams may be the only player to actually benefit from the NFL lockout.
The lockout will most likely reinstate a salary cap for the 2011 season, meaning Williams would cost the Cowboys roughly $13 million if he was released. NFL teams cannot make any personnel changes during the lockout, so Williams will be a Cowboy under the new collective bargaining agreement.
With a salary cap, Williams already will cost Dallas $9.5 million in 2011, plus his $4.4 million over the next three years of his contract, which counts against the Cowboys under the salary cap even though Williams has already been paid that extra money. On top of all that, the Cowboys would be charged a penalty of $3.7 million for releasing Williams against the 2011 salary cap.
The Cowboys should have cut Williams last season and then all of these complex figures would be irrelevant. Williams played well with Dallas quarterback Tony Romo through the first half of the 2010 season, but the Cowboys compiled a 1-7 record during that period. After Romo went down with a broken collarbone and Wade Phillips was fired as head coach, Williams virtually disappeared.
Hopefully Williams will produce in 2011 with a healthy Romo, but the Cowboys would rather record a winning season than have an expensive receiver recover his prime. Perhaps both will happen; Williams could return to Pro Bowl form and the Cowboys could win the NFC East. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though.