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

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Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) scrambles from Washington Redskins outside linebacker Rob Jackson (50) in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. Romo was injured on the play and is out for the season. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

What do you do with his $41 million in dead money then? Romo is very likely dead cap money waiting to happen, and it may be sooner rather than later. So it’s prudent to start looking at his dead money liabilities in future years and plan to minimize the harm.

If the Cowboys can refrain from restructuring Romo in 2014, his dead money liability will drop from a catastrophic $41 million to a merely awful $19 million. That $19 million could be spread out over two seasons, if cutting Romo became necessary in 2015. Not ideal, but not a knife through the heart either.

And perhaps not necessary – we’re budgeting worst-case scenario. Romo may have a few good years left despite his age and physical breakdowns. There may not be a tougher player in the league. Romo can beat you at your house with a pair of busted ribs and a punctured lung. Nobody plays with pain like Romo, but the smart move is to budget for the worst.

Gutting up and taking that $21 million cap hit for Romo’s contract in 2014 will severely reduce the dead money risk in future years. It means the Cowboys can’t upgrade all the positions they need through free agency, so it makes finding NFL-caliber talent on the cheap in this year’s draft that much more important.

Based on the team’s draft position, Over The Cap projects the Cowboys will need about $1.9 million in 2014 cap space to sign their eight draft picks. Here’s how the Cowboys can get far enough under the cap to sign their rookies, all without any restructuring:


Scheduled 2014 Cap Figure


Adjusted 2014 Cap Hit

2015 Cap Hit

2016 Cap Hit

DE DeMarcus Ware


June 1 Cut




WR Miles Austin


June 1 Cut




QB Kyle Orton






T Jermey Parnell






C Phil Costa






LB Justin Durant







*Figures courtesy of


These cuts give the Cowboys about $3.3 million in cap room, all without kicking Romo’s contract down the road. Word on the street is they’ve already begun down this path, releasing four small-time contracts on Friday with “sources” saying backup center Phil Costa is next.

The Cowboys may not be able to play in the free agent market this offseason. They may not be able to re-sign defensive tackle Jason Hatcher or defensive end Anthony Spencer. DeMarcus Ware won’t finish his career a Cowboy. But all that is the ultimate cost of poor cap managment. The Cowboys can choose to restructure a few contracts and keep borrowing themselves into oblivion, pushing today’s problems into future seasons, or they can take their medicine today and get healthy tomorrow.

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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