Cowboys Salary Cap Analysis cont'd: Calculations

This is supplemental part of the salary cap analysis found here.

The other post was quite long in itself, so I decided to break this out into a separate post, so that it'd be more easily digestible, and so that people could ask questions about a specific player's cap hit.

Update:Due to OCC's helpful suggestions, I re-looked into my numbers and the actual rules, and discovered that I had been calculating guaranteed bonuses incorrectly. Instead of being applied the year that they are obtained, they are treated the same as signing bonuses and pro-rated across the life of the contract. However, guaranteed salaries are applied only the year they are for; THEY are NOT pro-rated across the contract.

Salary Cap Calculations

First, only the top 51 players are counted against a team's salary cap (Top 51 Rule). A player's salary cap hit for a year comes down to 3 components:

  1. Player's base salary
  2. Part of the player's signing bonus (aka, a prorated portion of the player's signing bonus)
  3. Any likely-to-be-earned (LTBE) "performance" bonuses that a player will make for that year (e.g., roster bonuses).*
    *There are also not-likely-to-be-earned (NLTBE) "performance" bonuses, which do NOT count toward the current year's salary cap, but can potentially be subtracted from the next year's salary cap.

Now, for the most part, the first two components are the easiest parts to find for a player's salary cap hit. However, there are some issues when it comes to calculating the 3rd component. This leads to the


  1. "Performance" bonuses don't seem to be reported with any degree of regularity which makes it difficult to take these bonuses into account when calculating salary cap hits.
  2. Sometimes, it's hard to determine whether a "performance" bonus fits into the LTBE or NLTBE category. And it also varies somewhat depending on previous performance of the player. This point along with the previous point means that for the sake of the salary cap calculations, I'm going to ignore all "performance" bonuses which do not obviously fit into the LTBE category. There may be enough LTBE "performance" bonuses which add up to the $14 million differential, but until I see the work that goes into these numbers, I'm going to be skeptical that the Cowboys are really $14 million over the number that I calculated. In addition, some of those players who might have these "extra" bonuses, will be potential targets to release/trade, so that extra bonus will also be dropped.
  3. Escalator clauses can increase a player's base salary above the number first reported when they signed. For the most part, I believe that there aren't enough escalator clauses which get hit that will cause a significant change in the salary cap hit determination.

Here are the numbers that I calculated for each player. Only top 51 players in terms of cap are shown. Dollar values are in millions.

PlayerPosAgeExpYrs Left2011 Cap Hit2012 Cap Hit2011 Base Salary2011 LTBE Bonuses2011 SB Pro-ration
Tony RomoQB3173$11.899$11.899$9.000$0.000$2.899
DeMarcus WareOLB2965$11.200$9.500$6.700$0.500$4.000
Terence NewmanCB3383$10.000$8.016$8.000$0.000$2.000
Leonard DavisG33103$8.833$8.833$6.000$0.000$2.833
Miles AustinWR2756$8.540$1.150$8.540$0.000$0.000
Roy WilliamsWR3074$8.360$10.052$5.110$0.000$3.250
Andre GurodeC3392$7.167$8.167$5.500$0.000$1.667
Marion BarberRB2864$6.750$8.000$4.250$0.500$2.000
Marc ColomboOT3393$6.100$3.800$1.900$3.100$1.100
Bradie JamesILB3081$5.600$0.000$3.500$0.500$1.600
Jay RatliffDL3062$5.350$6.475$3.750$0.000$1.600
Igor OlshanskyDL2972$4.935$5.800$3.335$0.100$1.500
Jason WittenTE2982$3.891$4.641$3.391$0.500$0.000
Dez BryantWR2314$2.617$3.439$1.113$1.000$0.504
Jon KitnaQB39143$2.600$3.100$2.600$0.000$0.000
Keith BrookingILB36131$2.200$0.000$2.200$0.000$0.000
Mat McBriarP3271$2.200$0.000$1.700$0.000$0.500
Anthony SpencerOLB2741$1.896$0.000$1.001$0.000$0.895
Felix JonesRB2432$1.738$1.884$1.024$0.000$0.714
Mike JenkinsCB2632$1.541$1.672$0.921$0.000$0.620
Montrae HollandG3181$1.500$0.000$1.000$0.500$0.000
Orlando ScandrickCB2631$1.200$0.000$1.200$0.000$0.000
Sean LeeILB2513$0.833$0.918$0.405$0.000$0.428
L.P. LadouceurLS3062$0.824$0.964$0.650$0.000$0.174
Martellus BennettTE2431$0.771$0.000$0.555$0.000$0.216
Tashard ChoiceRB2731$0.665$0.000$0.555$0.000$0.110
Stephen McGeeQB2622$0.613$0.698$0.480$0.000$0.133
Victor ButlerOLB2422$0.605$0.690$0.480$0.000$0.125
Kris BrownK35121$0.525$0.000$0.865$0.000$0.000
Martin RuckerTE2631$0.525$0.000$0.555$0.000$0.000
Brandon WilliamsILB2322$0.521$0.681$0.405$0.000$0.116
Akwasi Owusu-AnsahS2313$0.518$0.603$0.405$0.000$0.113
David BuehlerK2422$0.517$0.602$0.480$0.000$0.037
Kenwin CummingsLB2521$0.480$0.000$0.480$0.000$0.000
Kevin OgletreeWR2421$0.480$0.000$0.480$0.000$0.000
Sam YoungOT2413$0.433$0.518$0.405$0.000$0.028
John PhillipsTE2422$0.425$0.585$0.405$0.000$0.020
Sean LissemoreDL2413$0.417$0.502$0.405$0.000$0.012
Josh BrentDT2313$0.417$0.502$0.405$0.000$0.012
Barry ChurchS2312$0.409$0.494$0.405$0.000$0.004
Phil CostaG/C2412$0.409$0.494$0.405$0.000$0.004
Mike BalogunLB2811$0.405$0.000$0.405$0.000$0.000
Clifton GeathersDE2411$0.405$0.000$0.405$0.000$0.000
Isaiah GreenhouseLB2401$0.405$0.000$0.405$0.000$0.000
Chris GronkowskiRB2512$0.405$0.490$0.405$0.000$0.000
Manuel JohnsonWR2501$0.405$0.000$0.405$0.000$0.000
Danny McCrayS2312$0.405$0.490$0.405$0.000$0.000
Lonyae MillerRB2301$0.405$0.000$0.405$0.000$0.000
Jermey ParnellDT2511$0.405$0.000$0.405$0.000$0.000
Andrew SendejoS2401$0.405$0.000$0.405$0.000$0.000
Bryan McCannCB2411$0.385$0.000$0.385$0.000$0.000


  • Most contract information was taken from Rotoworld
  • Roy Williams: From what I can tell, he did not get a signing bonus when he signed the extension. His extension has been reported as 5-year/$45 million or 6 year/$54 million. Considering that his contract expires in 2014, I'm assuming the 5-years/$45 million references his 2009 to 2013 seasons. If you add up the salaries in 2011-2013 ($20.41 M) and the bonuses that we know of ($19.5 M), it seems reasonable that Williams' salary for 2009 and 2010 totaled about $5 million. The actual bonuses given to Williams were ROSTER BONUSES, which are LTBE bonuses, NOT signing bonuses. Never mind. I've figured out how to calculate this :)
  • Marc Colombo: He's similar to Roy Williams in that it's hard to determine what exactly was given to him. However, it looks like at most he received a small signing bonus and also has ROSTER bonuses instead of signing bonus. It was reported that he got a 5 year/$22.605 million extension. In 2010, he got $4.14 million. Add that with his base salaries for 2011-2013 ($8.6 million) and his 2011 roster bonuses ($3.1 million) and that leaves about $7.5 million left for 2009 and signing bonus. Hmmm, I had a signing bonus of $2.5 million, but now that looks a little light and it might actually be around $5 million which would add another $0.5 to 1.5 M to the release of Colombo for 2011). ED: Changed to signing bonus of $5.5 million.
  • Dez Bryant: Has $2.4 million in roster bonuses from 2011-2012, and $750 K in workout bonuses in 2012-14, so I divided them up $1 million in 2011 and $1.4 million in 2012 and Roster bonuses of $200K, $250 K, and $300 K
  • I attempted to look for signing bonuses for players when not explicitly stated, but I could only find one for Bradie James. Additionally, a google search for performance bonuses for players yielded essentially nada. If anyone has any more information on this, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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