Realistic Moves That Could Get the Dallas Cowboys Under the Salary Cap in 2014
I have no doubt that the Cowboys will get under the cap in 2014. In fact, if the Cowboys intend to play football in 2014, they must be under the salary cap to do so.
The Cowboys can designate a player as post-June 1 cut, meaning that when the player is cut on or after June 1, that player’s prorated bonus and guaranteed base salary will count against the current salary cap; all other money will be charged against the following year’s salary cap.
The Cowboys can designate a player as a post-June 1 cut, but the team will not gain any of the benefits from the designation if the player is cut before June 1.
If the Cowboys decided to simply cut a player, all of their future guaranteed base salaries and prorated bonuses would count against the current salary cap. Meaning that the Cowboys would simply eat said player’s salary and prorated bonuses as “dead money” against the current cap. However, there would be no penalty against the following year’s cap.
If the Cowboys decided to trade a player, only the prorated bonus money would count against the current salary cap.
Also, the Cowboys could simply restructure a player’s contract to make it more “cap friendly." In a restructure, the team will convert a portion of a player’s base salary or bonuses into guaranteed signing bonuses, which will then be prorated throughout the remaining years of that player’s contract.
The downfall to restructuring a player’s contract is that while it does help create cap space for the current year, it also adds to the guaranteed portion of that player’s contract and increases their cap number throughout the remainder of the contract.
So come along with me as we explore some of the realistic options that the Cowboys have as they try to get under the salary cap for the 2014 season.
Realistically, the Cowboys would love not to restructure Tony Romo’s deal after only one year. Unfortunately, the Cowboys don’t have much of an option. Don’t even ask about cutting Romo; it’s not happening.
Here is the only realistic option that the Cowboys have with Romo:
Restructure: The Cowboys can create approximately $10,036,000 in cap space by restructuring a maximum of $12,545,000 of Romo’s guaranteed $13,500,000 salary in 2014. By doing so Romo’s cap number in 2014 would be lowered to $11,737,000 from $21,773,000, but his 2015 cap number would jump from $25,273,000 to $27,782,000.
Because DeMarcus Ware has agreed to restructure his contract each of the previous three seasons, he’s scheduled to cost the Cowboys $16,003,750 against the cap in 2014.
Here are the options that the Cowboys have with Ware:
Pay Cut: The NFL’s leader in sacks, Robert Mathis, is scheduled to make $8,750,000 in 2014, so asking Ware to take a pay cut of about $4 million, which would bring his $12,250,000 base salary down to $8,250,000 doesn’t seem unreasonable. However, Ware has said that he would not be willing to take a pay cut.
Post-June 1 Cut: By designating the seven-time Pro Bowler as a post-June 1 cut, the Cowboys would create $12,750,000 in cap space, however the team would eat $3,253,750 in dead money in 2014 and $5,317,750 in 2015.
Cut: By cutting Ware, the team would gain $7,432,250 in cap space in 2014, but would also eat $8,571,500 in dead money.
Restructure: By restructuring a maximum of $11,395,000 of Ware’s guaranteed $12,250,000 2014 salary for a fourth straight season the Cowboys would create $8,546,250 in cap space, while lowering Ware’s cap number from $16,003,750 to $7,457,500. In turn that would increase Ware’s 2015 cap number from $17,503,750 to $20,352,500.
I can’t be the only one that thinks that Brandon Carr hasn’t lived up to the 5-year, $50.1 million contract that he signed in 2012. But, after restructuring his contract in 2013, Carr has the third highest cap number on the team in 2014, which sits at $12,217,000.
At this point, it wouldn’t be beneficial for the Cowboys to cut Carr, as it would cost them $16,868,000 in dead money, and it would also add $4,651,000 to the $23.75 million that they are already projected to be over.
Here are the options that the Cowboys have with Carr:
Post-June 1 Cut: By designating Carr as a post-June 1 cut, the Cowboys can save $7,500,000 against the cap, while having to eat $4,717,000 in dead money this year, but $12,151,000 in 2015.
Restructure: By restructuring a maximum of $6,770,000 of Carr’s guaranteed $7,500,000 guaranteed base salary in 2014, the Cowboys would gain $5,077,500 in salary cap space and would lower Carr’s overall cap number from $12,217,000 to $7,139,500, but his $12,717,000 cap number in 2015 would rise to $14,409,500.
Another guy who hasn’t lived up to his hefty 6-year, $54 million extension is wide receiver Miles Austin. It’s rumored that the Cowboys are done with Austin, and will be looking to move on from him during the 2014 offseason.
Here are the options that the Cowboys have with Austin:
Pay Cut: Terrence Williams, whose cap number in 2014 is $684,868, was far more productive than Austin, whose cap number in 2014 is $8,249,400, was in 2013. So, if the Cowboys were to keep Austin on the team, he would have to take a sizeable pay cut. I’m talking about bringing him down to the veteran minimum of $855,000 guaranteed per year.
Post-June-1 Cut: By designating Austin as a post-June 1 cut, the Cowboys would save $5,500,000 against the cap in 2014, while having to eat $2,749,400 in dead money this year, and $5,106,200 in 2015.
Cut: If the Cowboys were to flat out cut Austin, they would only gain $393,800 in cap space, while adding $7,855,600 in dead money.
Restructure: If the Cowboys restructure a maximum of $4,645,000 of Austin’s $5,500,000 guaranteed salary in 2014, the team stands to gain $3,483,750 in cap space and would reduce his cap figure from $8,249,400 to $4,765,650 in 2013. Austin’s cap figure in 2015, however, would increase from $9,637,400 to $10,798,650.
The Cowboys could also restructure the contracts of cornerback Orlando Scandrick, quarterback Kyle Orton, guard Mackenzy Bernadeau or cut ties with some veterans, as in the cases of center Phil Costa and linebacker Justin Durant.
Restructuring $3,770,000 of Scandrick’s guaranteed $4.5 million 2014 salary would create $3,016,000 in cap space.
Restructuring $2,395,000 of Orton’s guaranteed $3.2 million 2014 salary would create $1,596,667 in cap space.
Restructuring $2,020,000 of Bernadeau’s guaranteed $2.7 million 2014 salary would create $1,010,000 in cap space.
Cutting Costa would cost the team $225,000 in dead money, but would save them $1.5 million against the cap.
Cutting Durant would cost the team $200,000 in dead money, but would save them $1.25 million against the cap.