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

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First, let me explain the “Break Even Point” line in the above section.  This is the point at which Dallas has pretty much made zero roster additions that upgrade any position from last year’s team.  Every move made in preceding sections involved retaining players from last year’s team or adding a player that will not exceed his predecessor.  Kitna’s replacement will do nothing more than provide adequate backup for Romo, just as Kitna did before him.

And in the last section just above, the two moves before the ‘Break Even Point’ line will not upgrade from last year regardless of the player added.  The replacement for Laurent Robinson, assuming he’s not re-signed, will certainly not produce at or above the high level that Laurent did from the third wide received slot.  A 3rd WR producing that much from this role in an offense is extremely rare.  It’s the same story with adding a blocking tight end.  Martellus Bennett wasn’t a solid dual-threat tight end, yet he was widely regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league.  His replacement will not exceed his proficiency in the run game.   Even with these two roster additions, there still has yet to be an upgrade made from last year’s team.

The moves that are still required below the ‘Break Even Point’ can provide upgrades from last year depending on how they are addressed.  The salary cap funds are dipping very low at $1,435,000, yet any additions made through the draft are already accounted for in an earlier section.  So these drafted players are essentially free from adjusting the cap further on the ledger.

In my simulation, I drafted a starting cornerback (Dre Kirkpatrick), 4th cornerback (Cliff Harris), and blocking tight end (best available).  The 5th cornerback position will be given to Mario Butler who is already on the team and paid for.   No more of the available $1,435,000 cap funds have still yet to be consumed.  However, now I must sign a few key free agents to fill crucial open spots.  Laurent Robinson is re-signed along with Abe Elam.  This brings the cap to a huge impasse in the form of a -$3,565,000 deficit.  In the final section below I also drafted a guard to slightly address the interior line concerns as there are no funds available to add any veteran with above average skills.

Now we can clearly see in a quantifiable way just how deep into the limited cap funds the $8.8 million franchise tag sacrifice to Spencer truly penetrated; and more importantly the tags consequences.  By doing nothing more than re-signing select players from the 2011 Cowboys team, adding a veteran back-up QB, and signing a full draft class, I’ve created a -$3,565,000 hole.  The next time shouting to sign Brandon Carr or Carl Nicks at $10 mil+ a year sounds like a great notion, let’s all remember after tagging Spencer and signing a full draft class the well is already running dangerously low.  And with a huge number of must-fill holes still remaining to be addressed.  Was franchise tagging an above average OLB from the same leaky defense as last year a bright idea?  Was signing away 44% of the Cowboys total estimated cap funds (and overpaying $4 million above Spencer’s true value) the right move?  I know one thing for sure, when it all adds up the Salary Cap Funds Ledger says otherwise.

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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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