Free agency is just around the corner and the NFL teams still don't know what the exact 2012 salary cap number is going to be. According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com the NFL and NFLPA are "scrambling" to increase the cap number for the 2012 season. Apparently, league and the union are wrestling with two issues:
The problem arises from two realities. Under the new CBA, players receive a finite number (47 percent of specifically defined revenues) to cover both salaries and benefits. But the costs of the benefits have increased, driving more of the allocation away from salaries.
And so, for roughly a week, the NFLPA has been trying to re-do the numbers in order to trim back the benefit costs and in turn drive up the salary cap.
A much more delicate issue, according to Florio, could be that neither the league nor the union feel particularly inclined to give the players the impression that they got the short end of the stick in the new CBA - an impression the players could easily get if the salary cap ended up lower than where it was last year.
The total 2011 "player cost amount" was $142.4 million, of which $22.025 million went for player benefits and $120.375 million remained for salaries per team. The CBA doesn't allow the total player cost amount to decrease year-on-year, but because the cost of player benefits has gone up, this takes away money from player salaries.
This is the main reason we haven't yet heard any definitive numbers about how much money the Cowboys' will have available to spend. Not that it matters all that much anyway. Depending on what the final league figure ends up being, the Cowboys currently have in the neighborhood of $12.6 million to spend. With some creative bookkeeping, judicious player cuts and contract restructurings, they could free up close to triple that amount.
There are bound to be a number of attractive free agents available for that type of money, but will the Cowboys use it?