First of all, this is my first fanpost and I don't consider myself a particularly great writer, so take it easy please!
I felt the need to write this because I've seen several people in comments suggesting that if the Cowboys continue to lose, the FO should consider "blowing up the team" in the offseason to hoard draft picks. I'm not going to advocate for or against that strategy in this post, but I don't think some of these people are fully aware of the salary cap implications involved in trading players.
First of all, a simplified example to demonstrate:
Player A signs a 5 year contract worth $50m ($20m of which is guaranteed, all in signing bonus). That player would immediately get the $20m, but it's cost against the salary cap would be spread out evenly over the 5 years of the contract. Player A's salary cap hits would look like this (simplified):
If Player A has just completed the second year of his contract and is then traded, the team still has $12m ($4m of the signing bonus times 3) that has already been paid to the player but not accounted for in the salary cap. The result is that the team would have to absorb this $12m cap hit the following year and that would be the cost of trading that player.
Now, without getting into too many details (can discuss in comments if there are any questions about my figures), here are the costs of trading some of our core (but aging) players this coming offseason:
|Player||2013 Cap Hit
||Cost to Trade
Romo's contract is a bit more complicated with all of his restructures and voidable contract years, but his cap hit next year would be $16.8m and his cost to trade/release (to the best of my knowledge) would be the remainder of his restructure bonuses, which is about $5.3m.
While it would probably be possible to trade these guys (in terms of the salary cap), we would have to replace them with very cheap replacements. Getting a bunch of draft picks for aging vets might seem like a good idea to some, but I just wanted to make it known that it wouldn't come for free.