Let us tell you something you already know: the Dallas Cowboys are currently third-worst in the NFL in terms of cap space. They are over $21 million in the red. On one hand, this is a scary fact due to the reality that some of the team’s biggest stars are set to make big contracts in free agency. On the other hand, every single year NFL teams that are in the red with cap space find a way to make monetary maneuvers to get themselves back to even. Jerry and Stephen Jones will have to do this, too.
How they will do this is yet to be known. Some have suggested letting go of several of the 24 players set to become free agents. Others have suggested making cuts to star players in order to save money for the cap. Two names that have continually come up as potential cap casualties are Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence.
But do the Cowboys have to cut these two stars in order to get back to positive money in the salary cap? The answer is actually no.
While some believe that in order to hold onto free agents like Dalton Schultz, Randy Gregory, and Michael Gallup they need to make cuts, that just isn’t true. The Cowboys likely can’t re-sign all three, but they can keep one or two without cutting Cooper and Lawrence. How? Because, according to Blogging the Boys, Dallas can save almost $65 million by restructuring contracts. The Joneses likely won’t restructure all of them, but this number shows that significant monetary movement is possible.
The chart below shows all of the possible contracts the Cowboys could restructure in order to save money. It has already been reported that quarterback Dak Prescott’s final year of his contract will be manipulated to help save cap space.
The Cowboys do not need to cut DeMarcus Lawrence and Amari Cooper in order to have the money they need to sign free agents
If the Cowboys were to cut Lawrence and Cooper, it would save the team $24 million. From there, they’d have to figure out how to sign guys like Gallup, Schultz, and Cedrick Wilson in order to make up for the names they’d just cut. In other words, you’d be cutting to save what you’d end up having to spend, putting the Joneses exactly back where they started.
Here are some possible money-saving options. The Cowboys could restructure Lawrence and Cooper’s contracts (rather than cut them) and save $21 million. Dallas can maneuver La’el Collins’ money to save almost $6 million. The team can release injury-prone tight end Blake Jarwin to save almost $4 million. The Cowboys can move money to Prescott’s final “void year” of his contract to save up to $16 million. Now, remember these are options and best-case scenarios. Dallas is unlikely to do all of these restructures and unlikely to do them for the full amount.
When you look at these options, cutting two of the best players on your team just doesn’t make sense. They’d be spending the money they saved to help save the roster. Instead, Dallas can save more money by restructuring some available contracts and pushing the cap problems away for another year (which will just give fans another headache in 2023).
The point is the front office doesn’t need to make such aggressive moves. They can cut guys to prove a point about a player’s performance or the fact that they may have been overpaid. But they have other options besides cutting these fan favorites.