Cowboys Cap Maneuvering: Restructuring To Reload?

Miles Austin, consummate teammate. Think he'd restructure his deal to let the Cowboys become players in free agency?

Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas wrote an interesting piece yesterday, posing a possible solution if the Cowboys are truly up against the salary cap wall once the next CBA is signed. Archer suggests that the Cowboys restructure the contracts of three of their biggest stars, in order to gain maximum cap flexibility.

The Cowboys can create nearly $17.5 million in salary cap room by reworking the deals of DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo and Miles Austin.

Romo’s base salary in 2011 is $9 million. Austin will pull down $8.54 million. Ware will take home $6.7 million. The Cowboys can knock those base salaries down to the veteran minimum ($765,000 in the case of Romo and Ware; $640,000 for Austin) and turn the rest into signing bonus.

Romo’s cap figure would go from $12.962 million to $7.472 million. Ware’s cap figure would go from $11.348 million to $5.952 million. Austin’s cap figure would go from $8.54 million to $1.956 million.

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Initially (on four hours of sleep and 14 in the past three days) I'm in favor of the idea. I've marveled for years that the one thing Redskin's owner Daniel Snyder actually does right is juggle his contracts where he is consistently able to play the free agent market. It hasn't brought his team any success, as you need proper player evaluation to go along with the financial wizardry, but the value of that skill remains strong. Even this year, after taking one season off in 2010 to not sign big name players, the Redskins are rumored to be big players come free agency.

 

I would be very intrigued to see what happens should the Cowboys go this route. If the new CBA emerges with something similar to the June 1st rule (players accelerated cap hits spread over two seasons) then the Cowboys could be in a position to easily sign Doug Free, as well as sign an elite talent to go along with other cost-effective upgrades. I'd think Tony Romo would make that move to keep Doug Free around. I think DeMarcus Ware would do it so his secondary could give him that extra split second to reach the quarterback.

Now, a capologist would have to explain to me exactly how Dan Snyder keeps getting away with this way of conducting business. I would never condone anything that would lead to the premature release of any of the aforementioned players. As much as I crave the next Lombardi, I don't think that I'd make the deal for just a chance to win one, then possibly dismantle two years later with nothing to show. Win two or three, well, that there is a different equation all together. With over 500 free agents this year, a savvy evaluator could honestly fix a team if he had the cap space to do it. Possibilities abound at every position of need for the Cowboys. While Dallas probably has some of the best 3-4 DE free agents, upgrades are a plenty at safety, offensive guard, and possibly cornerback. If the Cowboys can resign Free and Spears (my top two in house priorities), and still have money to spend? Oh boy.

Darn it, there I go getting excited about football again.

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