Two weeks ago, Jason La Canfora of NFL.com published an overview of each team's payroll and how much room was left under the salary cap for the 2011 season.
At the time, the Cowboys had a total salary number of $116.7 million, which left them $6.7 million under the cap. Included in those numbers are Andre Gurode's contract as well as Orlando Scandrick's old contract. Gurode was set to make $5.5 million this year with a salary cap hit of $7.16 million. His release saves the Cowboys $5.5 million this year, bringing their total cap space to 12.2 million.
Scandrick signed a 6-year $28.2 million extension, the details of which are not yet known. For the sake of this argument, let's assume the Cowboys pay him his average annual salary of $4.7 million this year (the contract is probably lower this year and backloaded to some degree). Less his original $0.6 million salary for 2011, Scandrick would cost the Cowboys at most $4.1 million against the cap this year. In total, that leaves the Cowboys with at least $8.1 million in cap space for now. What will the Cowboys do with all that cap space?
[Edit: Todd Archer from ESPN Dallas reports the Cowboys have roughly $11.5 cap space available which they could carry over into next year]
The Cowboys currently have 14 players on the roster whose contracts expire after the end of this season. Should the Cowboys extend some of those players now and hope to get a great performance on the cheap, or wait until those players break out before re-signing them and risk overpaying in the process?
Below is the list of Cowboys players who'll hit some type of free agency next year either as unrestricted, restricted or exclusive rights free agents. The Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) are of no concern to the Cowboys right now, because unless the are released, they may only sign with the Cowboys in 2012, provided of course that the Cowboys extend a minimum qualifying offer to the player.
|Player||2011 Base Salary||Status 2012|
|Mat McBriar||1,700,000||Free Agent|
|Anthony Spencer||1,001,000||Free Agent|
|Montrae Holland||1,000,000||Free Agent|
|Orlando Scandrick||555,000||Signed 6-yr, $28.2 m extension
|Martellus Bennett||555,000||Free Agent|
|Tashard Choice||555,000||Free Agent|
|Martin Rucker||555,000||Free Agent|
|Kevin Ogletree||480,000||Restricted free agent|
|Manuel Johnson||405,000||Exclusive rights free agent|
|Lonyae Miller||405,000||Exclusive rights free agent|
|Jermey Parnell||405,000||Exclusive rights free agent|
|Andrew Sendejo||405,000||Exclusive rights free agent|
|Jesse Holley||385,000||Exclusive rights free agent|
|Bryan McCann||385,000||Exclusive rights free agent|
|Teddy Williams||330,000||Exclusive rights free agent|
Looking over this list, are there players you would like to see the Cowboys extend early, or would you adopt a wait-and-see approach, even it could mean shelling out big bucks next year?
Perhaps you would like to see the Cowboys invest their $8.1 million to extend other players on the roster? Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, Jay Ratliff, Jason Witten, Stephen McGee and Victor Butler will all be free agents after the 2012 season. Perhaps the Cowboys could be looking to tie up one of these players early.
Or should the Cowboys invest that money somewhere else entirely?