Can the Dallas Cowboys afford to be aggressive in free agency?
With free agency set to officially begin on Wednesday at 4:00pm EST, will the Dallas Cowboys be mostly observers once again?
This time of year has become a particularly annoying time of year for most Dallas Cowboys fans. They sit and watch a lot of organizations around the league be aggressive and potentially make significant improvements to their franchise seemingly overnight while building anticipation for the Cowboys to do the same.
This same anticipation that fans receive when free agency approaches quickly turns into hostility towards the Cowboys when business decisions are made to stay out of bidding wars for top free agents. So will this year be any different?
There are a lot of layers to this discussion, especially this year. Lets start with an enormous free agent signing the Cowboys have already made and that is the signing of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Some people may not consider this a free agent signing but, in reality, it is.
Lawrence was a free agent that was set to hit the open market and would have caused an enormous bidding war throughout the league. Regardless of how the Cowboys retained him the bottom line is they did and now have the opportunity to sign him long term.
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Even with the giant price tag that came with retaining Lawrence, the Cowboys are fully prepared to pay him $17.1 million dollars via the franchise tag this season if a long term deal cannot be reached; so mission accomplished on retaining your best pass rusher.
With the guaranteed money Lawrence will be receiving and the releasing of defensive lineman Benson Mayowa the Cowboys currently have around $3 million in cap space. There is another big fish the Cowboys must reel back in and that is defensive tackle David Irving. If they decide to go with a second round tender on Irving that $3 million has suddenly vanished.
If the Cowboys want to be players when free agency officially opens at 4 PM on Wednesday some moves will certainly have to be made and there are some options available to them should they decide to be more aggressive than usual. First, the requested release of cornerback Orlando Scandrick would free up roughly $1.4 million. Secondly the much discussed potential release of wide receiver Dez Bryant would free up $8.5 million. Third would be the extension of guard Zack Martin.
Martin is scheduled to count $9.3 million against the cap this year and that number can easily be trimmed in half if the Cowboys strike a long term deal. The deal is almost certain to happen but needs to happen now if the Cowboys want to free up cap space and pursue some quality free agents.
If the Cowboys decide to free up even more cap space they could restructure the “restructure friendly” contract of center Travis Frederick. This move was practically a certainty to occur if the Cowboys decided to free up a good amount of space this offseason.
Frederick is scheduled to make $10 million in base salary this season but does not reach that number again until 2023. His mostly lower base salaries spread out over the length of his contract leaves a good amount of room for restructures that would not cripple the Cowboys cap in the future.
Next: Dallas Cowboys - Three free agents that make sense
The moves are certainly there for the Dallas Cowboys to make if they decide to aggressively pursue a quality free agent or two. The question now becomes which moves do they decide to make and what caliber of free agents do they decide to pursue, if any.