Like plenty of teams in the NFL right now, the Dallas Cowboys are restructuring contracts so they can get under the salary cap and make room for free agency. It began yesterday when they restructured DeMarcus Ware‘s contract and they have reportedly asked other players such as Jason Witten, Dan Connor, Jay Ratliff, Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick to do the same.
Its fine for the Cowboys to restructure contracts now because they need the cap room, but it could come back to haunt them later. By lowering a player’s salary now, the team is guaranteeing more money for the player in the form of a bonus. This means if Ware or anyone suffers a career-ending injury, the Cowboys will still be paying them whether they are playing or not.
In the short term, this solution works well for Dallas. But the long term, it means in most cases they will be paying out money they may not have intended to pay out over the length of a full contract just to get under the cap. If the Cowboys decide to release any of the players they restructure, they will be paying that bonus off in years to come. It’s what people like to call salary cap hell, and the Cowboys are in it.
This method of creating salary cap room was expected and there are many other teams out there doing the same, but the problem for the Cowboys is that in two years, they will have young players that need to be signed to long-term deals.
Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray and Bruce Carter are the key names, and whether you agree with re-signing these players or not, the truth is they are the core of the Cowboys and the team likely views each of them as a building block into the future. By restructuring contracts now and pushing more money into future years for players this season, it takes away the possibility that the Cowboys will be able to sign all of their younger players.
It’s also the reason the Cowboys are likely to allow Anthony Spencer to walk away this off-season–they simply can’t afford him. Sure, they can restructure contracts and make him a priority but as Jerry Jones said the other day, they have to make a choice between Spencer or signing a few free agents.
The Cowboys appear ready to do the latter. The more money they give to Spencer, the less money they’d have to re-sign any of their younger core players in the next few years.
The Cowboys, once again, have put themselves in a tough spot with their salary cap. By overpaying for players like Jay Ratliff, Doug Free and Miles Austin, the Cowboys are now in a tough position in the next few years to sign players that can help the team in the future. So while you keep reading about the team restructuring contracts, just remember this: it helps now but hurts in the long run.
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