I decided to write this post because there was some debate as to whether or not we had the money to resign Spencer after this year, but nobody really seemed to know actually how much cap money we would have.
To try and give some more information on this subject, I have compiled a list of salary cap hits for all of our players for the next few years to try and project how much cap money we will have next year. Of course, the list is likely not completely accurate due to the difficulty in finding certain accurate numbers (dead money, etc.), but I'm hoping it's a reasonable representation of the facts.
I have compiled all of the data in an excel sheet, which is available for download:
Just some notes on the data before I get into my comments:
- All salary data was taken from www.spotrac.com.
- I am missing the 2013 cap hit info for Barry Church, as well as the 2012 cap hits for Vince Agnew and Ben Bass.
- I have seen some different reports about the amount of dead money we have on the books for 2012, so to arrive at the figure I used ($20m), I used a report from Mike Florio on June 22 of this year that said we had $7.18m in cap space. From there, I took into account all the transactions that occurred after that date (Ware restructure, Claiborne signing, Pool release, Moorman/Sims/Peprah signings) to arrive at roughly $20m. Please let me know if you think something is missing.
So, now to discuss the results. Right now, if nobody is resigned, released or restructured, next year we will be $13.4m over the $120.9m cap. At first glance, this might seem confusing as we will be getting over $20m of dead money of the books next year. The problem is the exploding salaries of Romo, Ware, Austin, Carr, and Free. The combined cap hit of those 5 players is set to increase by a monstrous $38m from 2012 to 2013.
At this point, I'm already hearing everyone screaming that there's no way we can resign Spencer. But looking at the roster, there's some obvious cap-saving moves we can make:
1. Release Dan Connor. I don't think there's any way he stays with his bloated $4.35m salary next year. Savings - $3m
2. Restructure Brandon Carr. Very doubtful we keep his base salary at a ridiculously high $16.3m without restructuring. Savings - Likely anywhere from $6m-$15m
3. Release Donavon Kemp. Not completely sure what the story is on this guy, but possible he goes to PS. Savings - $0.48m
4. Resign Tony Romo. Romo's salary next year is $16.8m. If the Cowboys decide to resign him, his first year's cap hit would likely be substantially reduced. Savings - Maybe around $7m or so.
5. Restructure Witten, Austin, or Ware. Witten and Austin both have high salaries, but it might be dangerous to restructure these guys too much as Witten is getting up there in age and Austin is injury prone. Ware was also just restructured this year. Savings - Maybe $3m-8m.
By doing some or all of these moves (I think 1-4 are very likely to happen, 5 maybe not as much), we could save anywhere up to around $34m, which would bring us to about $20m under the cap.
If we do all of the cap-saving moves that I mentioned, we would be about $20m under the cap, but that wouldn't be for the entire 53 man roster. The positions we would be missing would likely be (as detailed in sheet 2 of spreadsheet):
1. 3rd QB
2. 3rd TE (Phillips is UFA)
3. Starting OLB (Spencer is UFA)
4. Backup ILB (Sims is UFA and Connor is likely gone)
5. 4th CB (Jenkins is UFA)
6. 5th CB (Agnew is UFA)
7. Safety Depth
8. RB Depth (Jones is UFA)
9. D-Line Depth (Coleman is UFA)
10. Long Snapper (Ladouceur is UFA)
11. Either O-Line or OLB Depth (Butler is UFA)
12. Starting C (Costa is RFA, but likely he is resigned)
The good news is that these are all (with the exception of starting OLB) cheap positions to fill and will likely be done with cheap FAs and draft picks. Still, to fill all of these (except starting OLB), it will likely be in the $10m range.
Notable Contracts Coming Up
(excluding Romo who I already talked about)
- Doug Free's contract is a big problem. Not only is his salary huge, but he is also very expensive to release because of his recent restructure.
- It's unlikely we release either Livings or Bernadeau after this season unless we need the roster spots. Livings would cost more to release than keep and Bernadeau would not save much.
- If Spears is not starting next year, it's hard to justify his $2.7m salary as a backup, but cutting him would only save $600,000.
- If not for the ridiculous $10m Mara cap penalty, I don't even think we would be having this discussion.
So, can we resign Spencer?
The short answer is definitely yes. If we make some roster moves and fill out the depth positions we need, we could still have upwards of $10m to spend. Spencer's first year's cap hit would also likely be quite low (maybe in the $3-5m range).
The long answer is that it's complicated, because it is difficult to project the salary cap into 2014 and beyond without insider knowledge. Add in the fact that the cap is going to be relatively flat until 2015 and it's a difficult decision, but it's not going to be easy to replace him.