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Who Can the Cowboys Truly Afford? Check the Salary Cap Funds Ledger

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With the recent franchise tagging of Anthony Spencer, much to my strong disapproval I might add, the offseason direction and possibilities for the Dallas Cowboys have altered significantly.  Instead of debating and predicting past and potential moves through words, I feel it’s time to quantify the offseason roster details using financial tools.  Below I’ve created a rough Salary Cap Funds Cash Ledger for the Cowboys offseason.  It’s broken down into specific segments, each discussing the included moves of that section, and their effects on available funds.  I feel this is the best way to truly determine what is even possible in the upcoming months.  This first section begins with the Cowboys opening salary cap cash funds available, which is commonly known to be $12 million, and I’ll explain the adjustments further as we go.

The above section addresses offseason moves that have already been made, and also ones that are widely accepted as imminent.  The ledger starts with the opening available cap balance of $12,000,000.  Following is the Anthony Spencer franchise tag move reducing the available funds by $8.8 mil.  Also a balance increase of $8 mil raises the available balance to reflect coming roster cuts and roster/salary adjustments that have been predicted around this amount.  By cutting Newman after June 1, Dallas will eliminate his $6 mil base salary in 2012 (not $2 mil of the bonus portion as it counts against the 2012 cap).  The remainder of his bonus money will be applied to the 2013 cap.  Also, a few other current roster/salary tweaks are expected to provide another $2 mil or so in relief.  So with the franchise tagging of Spencer and the roster adjustments, the new cap balance ends at $11,200,000.

This section reflects the very likely signing of the Cowboys own valued free agents listed.  Tony Fiammetta will receive the Restricted Free Agent lowest tender at $1.26 mil.  Both Holley and Parnell are valued by the Cowboys staff and will each receive the Exclusive Rights Free Agent tender of $540k.  Available cap funds now reduce to $8,860,000.

Jerry Jones has commented often on his strong desire to acquire a veteran #2 QB providing similar security as he had in Jon Kitna.  I think it’s 90% likely he pulls the trigger on this move.  Remember, Kitna cost the Cowboys $2.6 mil against the cap in 2010 (his first season in Dallas).  And that was the least expensive year he was on the team.  The name Shaun Hill (recently with the Detroit Lions) is getting a lot of buzz these days as a potential addition.  For comparison sake, Hill counted $1.6 mil against the Lions cap in 2010, his least expensive year there.  At the least I’d expect Dallas to pony up $1.5 mil for anything remotely resembling a quality backup QB.

Also much is being said by G.M. Jerry Jones in regards to bringing back either Keith Brooking or Bradie James to provide veteran ILB depth behind the two very young starters.  My hunch is Brooking will return as he should be the least costly and a better fit in the clubhouse.  No doubt he would be 100% fine with a backup role.  In contrast, Bradie James likely feels he’s still a valued starter in the league.  Signing Brooking would cost a minimum $925k in line with the NFL rules for veteran minimums.  And now available cap funds dwindle down to $6,435,000.


It is estimated the total cost to sign a mid-round draft class of 7 players lands roughly around $5 million.  Since signing the 2012 Cowboys draft class is a certainty, $5 mil is deducted from the available cap funds.  A mere $1,435,000 is now left for the rest of the entire offseason and any further moves.  Unfortunately, as you’ll see below, Dallas is still left with the huge task of filling the open positions of the third wide receiver (Laurent Robinson), blocking tight end (Martellus Bennett), starting cornerback (Terence Newman), starting free safety (Abe Elam), fourth cornerback (Alan Ball), and fifth cornerback (Frank Walker).

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Tags: Abe Elam Anthony Spencer Brandon Carr Carl Nicks Center Cornerback Cowboys Cut Dallas Dallas Cowboys Draft Dre Kirkpatrick Franchise Tag Free Agency Free Agent Funds Guard Jerry Jones Laurent Robinson Martellus Bennett Quarterback Roster Salary Cap Shaun Hill Terence Newman Tony Romo

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