dallas cowboys insider
That’s why you make difficult financial decisions.
Nearly three months have passed since the Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott, a necessary accounting decision that couldn’t have been more fun for those in power. But as much as it hurts to cut Jerry Jones, a franchise favorite, the Cowboys’ owner and general manager is about to get paid.
Although the move was retracted in March, at which time Elliott was designated for cuts after June 1. Essentially, this means the Cowboys were able to spread their $16.7 million cap hit over two years, making it less painful to cut and freeing up $10.9 million in cap space. The only catch is that the savings won’t be available until the move is processed on June 1st.
It’s been a long wait, but the wind has arrived. The Cowboys can now add an additional $10.9 million to the $10.5 million they already have in cap space, meaning only five or six teams in the NFL have more to spend than their roughly $21 million.
Now, for the most important part, what could the Cowboys do with it? Given that much purchasing power, it makes sense to get ideas from big-name free agents like newly available receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The reality is probably a lot less interesting.
The Cowboys have a lot of cap space. There are quite a few expenses in their way as well. Trayvon Diggs enters the final year of his rookie contract with an eye on a possible extension. Other notable upstarts like Terrence Steele, Jaron Kearse and Tyler Biadaz are also headed for free agency in 2024.
Then there are the really big ticket ones. Although he has two years left on his deal, Seed Lamb is on his way to a major extension. Micah Parsons could be flirting with a record amount of money until he’s able to negotiate a year from now. And, of course, there’s Dak Prescott, whom the team has publicly talked about moving on from his current deal.
[What could CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs contract extensions look like for Cowboys?]
Even without factoring in the cost of the nuts and bolts that crop up during a season, there are many places to spend that extra cash.
Are Dak Prescott or Mike McCarthy under more pressure this season?
Maybe some of it could still go to Hopkins or someone like him – provided the cost is to the Cowboys’ liking. Dallas has shown a willingness to attract big-name veterans as long as the price is manageable. In 2020, they acquired Everson Griffen at the low price of $3 million in guarantees. Last summer, they brought in Anthony Barr for $2 million. Remember, their trade for Brandin Cook wasn’t completed until this spring when the Houston Texans agreed to pay a third of his $18 million salary.
The Cowboys are happy to take Pro Bowlers at a discount, but history tells us they are not the highest bidders – even if there is money to spend.
In Hopkins’ case in particular, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As mentioned, Lamb is going bankrupt soon and Michael Gallup is already in the building with a $57 million deal. Add in the part that Cooks is under contract for two more seasons, and it’s okay if the Cowboys don’t want to move on for a receiver who turns 31 next week.
The smart bet is that the Cowboys will still add talent this summer, even if it isn’t as exciting a player as Hopkins. Griffen and Barr were added in training camp and Jason Peters signed on the eve of the season last year. It is a foregone conclusion that the front office will sign at least one more kicker.
So, what happens to the extra cap space? A lot – maybe not in the way you might expect.
David Hellman covers the Dallas Cowboys for Fox Sports. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in the production of “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion,” about the quarterback’s time in Mississippi. follow him on twitter @davidhelman_,
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