The Dallas Cowboys 2013 cap situation



Talking about adding players is moot until Dallas addresses serious salary cap issues

While most fans agree that the Dallas Cowboys need better talent along the offensive line, defensive line, and depth throughout the roster, the team seems limited in how to obtain the talent necessary due to the 2013 salary cap situation. The Dallas Cowboys currently have 57 players under contract with a total salary cap figure of $128,627,212.29 heading into the 2013 regular season (

The salary cap is expected to be around $121 million in 2013 ( The Cowboys will have $5 million less available than the other teams, reducing their salary cap to about $116 million.

That means Dallas is currently $12,627,212.29 over their proposed 2013 salary cap. The 10 Cowboys players with the highest salary cap hits in 2013 consume $81,112,593.62 of space. That amount is almost 70% of the available salary cap for 2013.

Player Position 2013 Cap figure
Brandon Carr CB $16,300,000.00
Tony Romo QB $13,416,666.67
Doug Free OT $9,575,000.00
DeMarcus Ware OLB $8,857,142.86
Jason Witten TE $8,000,000.00
Miles Austin WR $6,732,000.00
Jay Ratliff NT $6,428,571.43
Dan Connor ILB $4,350,000.00
Morris Claiborne CB $3,786,546.00
Gerald Sensabaugh S $3,666,666.67

Releasing any of those players will accelerate the cap hits in 2013. Depending on when those players are released, however, the money may either all be apportioned to the 2013 salary cap or be equally distributed between the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

The Cowboys also has unrestricted free agents that will likely hit the open market. Anthony Spencer heads the list of Dallas unrestricted free agents.

Unrestricted free agents Position Minimum contract
Anthony Spencer OLB $10,627,200*
Felix Jones RB $715,000
Victor Butler OLB $715,000
Sterling Moore CB $630,000
LP Ladouceur LS $840,000
Ernie Sims ILB $840,000
Eric Frampton S $840,000
Mike Jenkins CB $715,000^
Derrick Dockery OG $940,000
Kevin Ogletree WR $715,000
Kenyon Coleman DE $955,000
Charlie Peprah S $840,000
John Phillips TE $715,000
Brady Poppinga ILB $840,000
Michael Coe CB $840,000
Brian Schaefering DE $715,000
Brian Moorman P $940,000

*Minimum exclusive rights salary cap figure for second consecutive year (120% of $8,856,000)

^Will likely command more than this amount in open market

If Dallas applies the exclusive rights franchise tag on Spencer for the second consecutive year, Anthony will cost an additional $10,627,200.00 against the 2013 salary cap. That would give the Cowboys a total salary cap charge of $139,254,412.29 for 2013: $23,254,412.29 over the proposed salary cap for the Cowboys.

An additional $4.58 million will likely be spent to keep the six unrestricted free agents listed immediately below Spencer, leaving Dallas more than $27.834 million over the 2013 salary cap. There are also restricted and exclusive rights free agents to whom the Cowboys may choose to tender an offer.

Free agents Type Position Minimum contract
Orie Lemon Exclusive rights ILB $555,000
Phil Costa Restricted OC $715,000
Danny McCray Restricted S $715,000

Including the restricted and exclusive rights free agent contracts, the Cowboys will be roughly $29.82 million over the 2013 salary cap with 67 players signed. The rookie pool will be added after the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Cowboys can carry over any unused portion of the 2012 salary cap, which is sure to be minimal considering the unexpected volume of signings Dallas needed to field a team last season. Dallas will need to restructure many of the contracts of the top ten players counting against the 2013 salary cap.

Whether the team can save almost $30 million will depend on the ability of Stephen Jones. The situation is reminiscent of the position faced by the Cowboys following the retirement of Troy Aikman at the turn of the century, when the team found itself heavily constrained by past salary cap indiscretions. At least the Cowboys have their first round draft picks this time around.

It seems obvious that aside from possibly franchising Spencer, this team will not make any type of splash in free agency this off season. Maybe this is the "uncomfortable" environment Jerry Jones was talking about immediately following the season.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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