Cowboys Should Use New $10 Million In Cap Space To Pay Off Debt

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Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (96) rests during a timeout in the first quarter of the game with the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Vikings win 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Friday’s news that the NFL’s 2014 salary cap will go north of $133 million has many organizations looking for cool new toys to buy, but not the Cowboys.

GM Jerry Jones already spent that money. He spent it last year when he restructured the contracts of defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Brandon Carr, tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Miles Austin.

Jerry spent it years before on ill-advised contracts for players now long gone. Here is a list of the former Cowboys Jerry will write checks to in 2014, according to Over the Cap:

Former Cowboys

Dead Money

DT Jay Ratliff

$6.9m

G Nate Livings

$2.1m

DT Marcus Spears

$1.4m

DT Sean Lissemore

$1.2m

15 other players

$181K

Total Dead Money

$11.8m

Jerry is in debt. Jerry should use this $10 million windfall to pay off dead money from released players and guaranteed money for active players pushed forward through contract restructuring in previous years.

Ten million won’t come anywhere near to covering the full balance due, but it’s a start. Revenue from the league’s new TV deals should push the cap even higher in 2015. The rising cap figure, coupled with some tough player cuts and absolutely no contract restructuring in 2014 can possibly have the team out of cap jail and on parole in two years.

Stop borrowing (restructuring contracts) and pay off your debt (dead money and guaranteed money pushed forward by previous restructures). Good advice for everyone. The biggest challenge for Jerry will be quarterback Tony Romo’s contract.

Romo will count $21.7 million against the cap this season. The temptation will be to restructure him and save as much as $10 million against the 2014 cap. But Romo’s contract carries a future dead money liability of over $41 million – this for a quarterback who’ll be 34 years old on opening day and has had two back surgeries in the past year.

The qualities that helped make Romo a quarterback who merits $20 million a year – mobility, athleticism, creating plays outside of the pocket – are not the type of physical assets that age gracefully. The slow creep of years will almost certainly affect Romo’s playmaking ability, and the threat of injury may further diminish his play by making him timid.

And that’s just a moderate assessment of what to expect for an eight-year NFL starter on the wrong side of 30 coming off major surgery. Worst-case scenario is he goes down in Week 1 with another back injury and never plays again.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys

  • Old Frog

    I’m a firm believer in financial responsibilty in general and although I don’t fully understand the Romo numbers, if this is the overall reality then it should be done. It accomplishes two things: 1. it gets their financial house in order and 2. it sends a message that strengthens their negotiating stance for the the future.

    • SmartThinking

      I’m also a believer in fiscal responsibility for this team or any other organization that pays people for their services and/or expertise. The wise thing, once it goes into effect, would be for Jones to take the additional cap increases and get himself, and this team, out of hock to the five or six players who’ve left this team with money still to be paid so we can move forward from a position of positive cash flow.

      But, here’s the thing. Give a wildcatter a few extra bucks and the first thing he’ll do is piss it all down another dry hole faster than other, smarter, more prudent teams can pay for their number one draft choice.

      It’s his nature. He can no more help it or himself than a drunk can avoid draining a bottle even when he knows what he’ll feel like the next day.

  • Tommy Roberts

    Jerry jones is probably! !! I just don’t understand why he can’t let it go you put tony romo on 49ers or any other team he would win a ring cowboy fans its not tony romo its JJ he’ll have to die before we win a super bowl an that’s a shame

  • ctcowboy1968

    Absolutely agree. Paying down debt is always prudent for everyone. Get the financial house back in order and based on what is outlined above, it won’t cost all that much talent. I hope JJ is serious about Ware, but in the end, I don’t think he will go through with cutting Ware. I would not cut Orton. Tony’s health is a risk and Orton provides us with a very good chance to win.

  • Ed

    I hadn’t really considered that aspect of the increase in the cap. Releasing some unproductive veterans can only make it better, right? I can’t even imagine the ’15 seasons cap space available if JJ takes this bit of advice.

  • jrcowboy49

    Damn good article and advise for Jerrah!
    D. Ware’s extreme high cap number reflects the vast ignorance of a GM (Jerrah) who can’t judge
    talent, overpays aging players, and has no idea about managing the salaries to fit the cap. Restructuring a player’s salary is “kicking the can down the road instead of fixing the problem.” That can has now come home to roost and it is biting Jerrah in the ass. The Cowboys are now in a rebuilding mode!
    Jerrah has destroyed the viability of the team as it cannot be sustained by arrogance, ego, and stupidity!

  • Chesney Blair

    Agreed. It is time to go back to drawing board and start over with new players. Secondly seeing Ratliff in the Bears uniform still gets me angry. How was this idiot able to get away with this?

    Cut Ware, Spencer and Ratliff. They had their time and unless it is a team friendly deal you have to part ways.

  • Earl Robertson

    Draft good but picking players from big time colleges and ones without injury issues and don’t give big time money to anyone over 30 unless he is a great qb and it would improve this roster greatly