Do the Dallas Cowboys have a salary structure problem?
By Tyrone Starr
In today’s NFL, so many factors go into whether or not your franchise is a viable championship contender. Every aspect of your organization needs to be on point for your team to have sustainable success. Defining where the Dallas Cowboys come into that discussion is often times frustrating at best.
Some of those elements are obvious. A top-notch coach, great players (especially at the quarterback position), and a shrewd front office are likely to be the most important facets.
A few of these items are extremely tangible. You know you have a great coach when it is obvious that your players play hard every game, no matter the situation, and develop into steady contributors.
A great coach is also at the top of his or her profession when they can adjust from week to week and even more so, quarter-to-quarter within the game happening at the moment. As it pertains to players, how well they perform, especially at the most important times within the game, is clearly the most tangible for all factors.
For the front office, one of the biggest attributes to success is how they manage the salary cap. Depending on who you talk to or your own personal opinion, the salary cap is either something of which to be quite mindful or it is basically a myth.
What is, unfortunately, a hard fact is that the cap tends to be a major reason for the lack of success when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. That statement had me pondering whether or not the Dallas Cowboys have a salary structure problem.
Now, having a salary structure problem is obviously different than having a salary cap problem. Not so long ago, the Cowboys used to have both problems. For years and years, they would have dead money on the books that would seemingly never end.
For the most part, those issues have subsided. Coming into the 2021 season, just over $8M of their total $10.8M in dead salary is due to two career-ending injuries that were out of their control. No, the problem Dallas has is with their structure.
Over half of the Dallas Cowboys’ entire cap is invested in just seven players. At first glance, that might not seem like too big of an issue, especially considering that money is going to a defensive end (DeMarcus Lawrence), a quarterback (Dak Prescott), and two offensive linemen (Zack Martin and Tyron Smith).
All four of those players have either earned Pro Bowl selections or been named All-Pro’s at some point in their career. Earmarking top money to great talent is fine, however, so much money being at the top means there isn’t a lot going to a large majority of your team.
This has been a staple of how the Dallas Cowboys do business. It is probably something that should consider changing as quickly as possible. Recently, NFL.com built, in their opinion, the best team money can buy. As you might imagine, no one with a star on their helmet was chosen.
Now, before you go thinking there is some “hate” towards the Dallas Cowboys, let me assure you, looking at their salaries via Spotrac.com, it is pretty easy to see why this team was shut out. What might be even more concerning than having no one on this mythical team is that only one player, receiver Michael Gallup, was even briefly considered.
What that means is that of the highest-paid players on this team, there is someone else on another team that is of such close ability but gets paid far less worthy of a spot. Possibly even more startling is that it also means that the Cowboys employ neither a player who makes “middle-of-the-road” money nor a “bargain” player who could make such a squad.
Obviously, this is just one person’s opinion, however, it is something that should be at the very least inspected further. This, by no means, precludes the Dallas Cowboys from success in 2021. It is interesting though that the perennial “good teams” are all represented by at least one player, if not multiple.