Like every other NFL team, the Cowboys have to be under the salary cap by 4:00 pm ET tomorrow. By cutting Gerald Sensabaugh, and with the recent restructurings of DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Brandon Carr, Jason Witten and Ryan Cook, the Cowboys were already safely under this year's $123 million salary cap - but only briefly.
Tagging Anthony Spencer put the Cowboys over the cap again, to the tune of about $6.8 million. And while the fact that the Cowboys are one of only four teams still over the cap makes for good headlines and alarmist commentary, this situation does not catch the Cowboys unprepared.
A key piece of the Cowboys offseason plans is Tony Romo's pending contract extension, which would likely make him a Cowboy for the rest of his playing career. A nice side benefit of that extension, depending on how that contract will be structured, is that it could cut Romo's $16.8 million cap hit for 2013 roughly in half. There's only a very slim chance that that extension could still happen between now and the Tuesday deadline, and if it doesn't, the Cowboys already have all the paperwork in place to be cap compliant by 4:00 pm ET:
The team has already agreed to restructured contracts with Orlando Scandrick, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings and Jay Ratliff, and only needs to submit the paperwork to the league office in the coming days to make them official. Kyle Orton may be included in that list, but we haven't yet heard anything official about Orton's contract being restructured. We also know that the Cowboys have asked linebacker Dan Connor to take a pay cut, so he'll likely be part of the package that gets the Cowboys under the cap - either a Cowboy or as a free agent.
And then there's the Doug Free situation: Scheduled to make $7 million in 2013 with a cap hit of $10 million, it's not at all clear what, if any, plans the Cowboys have for Free. The Cowboys could make him a June 1 cut; they could ask him to take a pay cut; even retaining him remains an option. For now, nothing is clear.
Overall though, this is just basic housekeeping. I assume the Cowboys simply held out on making these moves in the hope that re-signing Romo would make them unnecessary.