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The 2015 Dallas Cowboys cap now and potential solutions.

I am first going to lay out the same table showing our current cap hits for 2015 from Spotrac without any of my tinkering, then I will add in the cuts I put into 2014. From there I will give more possible moves.

2015 Data

Player POS Base Salary Signing Bonus Other Bonus Dead Money Cap Figure
Tony Romo QB 17,000,000 5,000,000 3,273,000 -19,908,000 25,273,000
DeMarcus Ware LB 13,750,000 - 3,753,750 -4,388,417 17,503,750
Brandon Carr CB 8,000,000 2,000,000 2,717,000 - 12,717,000
Doug Free T 8,000,000 2,060,000 960,000 - 11,020,000
Jay Ratliff DT 7,000,000 2,000,000 732,000 - 9,732,000
Miles Austin WR 6,888,000 - 2,748,400 -5,105,200 9,636,400
Jason Witten TE 5,100,000 2,500,000 912,000 - 8,512,000
Orlando Scandrick CB 5,000,000 600,000 1,501,250 - 7,101,250
Nate Livings G 4,400,000 700,000 221,250 - 5,321,250
Morris Claiborne CB 2,607,887 2,567,182 - - 5,175,069
Kyle Orton QB 3,500,000 1,000,000 - - 4,500,000
Mackenzy Bernadeau G 2,750,000 812,500 511,667 -1,324,167 4,074,167
Barry Church S 1,750,000 500,000 - - 2,250,000
Sean Lissemore DT 1,250,000 400,000 - - 1,650,000
L.P. Ladouceur LS 1,000,000 120,000 - -360,000 1,120,000
Tyrone Crawford DE 660,000 143,813 10,000 - 813,813
Kyle Wilber LB 660,000 109,800 - - 769,800
Matt Johnson CB 660,000 75,146 - - 735,146
James Hanna TE 660,000 26,213 - - 686,213
Caleb McSurdy LB 660,000 14,850 - - 674,850
2015 TOTALS BASE SALARY SIGNING BONUS OTHER BONUS CAP FIGURE
Top 51 Contracts 91,295,887 20,629,504 17,340,317 129,265,708
91,295,887 20,629,504 17,340,317 129,265,708
Cap Space 0 + 0 + 0 - 129,265,708 = -129,265,708

The current cap hit in 2015 is $129.265M. However if you put in the cuts, along with Ware's and Romo's restructures then our cap hit is sitting at $127.57M. This total includes a generic $12M for the last 2 years rookie pools and the generic $6M from 2014 for signing FA's. Now it is time for the 2015 moves. This time I am going to sign FA's before making any cuts, so I know how much I need to move around.

Our FA list this year is Dez, Tron, Orton, Parnell, Carter, Costa, Murray, Harris and Arkin. Dez, Tron and Orton all have optional years, but I am going to assume that we want to resign at least Dez and Tron early, not late. I am going to leave Orton's salary in the figures as I don't have a current restructure # for him. His hit on this table is $4.5M and his dead $ that I see is only $2M, but add in his restructure $ we have to eat and it will likely be close to a wash.

The top 10 OT's in salary for 2015 range from $5M a year to $10M a year. I am going to take the average and go with #5 Duane Brown of the Texans as our model contract. Yes, it is an assumption to go with the top 5 contract, but remember that inflation happens also. Brown got 7 years $56.2M with a $12.5M signing bonus for the contract a year ago. His first year's base was $1M + $2.6M s. bonus for a cap hit of $3.68 his first year.

The top 10 WR's make from $8M to $12.5M a year. I am going to use Percy Harvin's contract as it is the newest and is in the top 3 in pay. Harvin got 6 years $67M with a $12M signing bonus. Sheesh, sounds like QB money to me. His base this year is $2.5M, s. bonus $2.4M with a cap hit of $4.9M. Add in the projected resigning totals for Dez and Tron and we are up to $136.15M for 2015.

Now it is time for our other FA's on the list. Next is Carter. I am using Ahmad Brooks contract from last year. It is for 6 years $37M with a signing bonus of $7.5M. This is a bit of a stretch as we don't know how good Carter is going to be. So I am choosing a recent LB contract for a good LB. Brooks contract is barely out of the top 10 in pay for that year so it should be a fair measure atm. So Carters base pay will be $750k with a signing bonus of $1.5M hit and a cap hit of $2.25M for 2015. Our running total is now up to $138.4M for 2015.

I would budget in $10M for resigning Parnell, Harris and Costa and a couple other FA's at about $2M per year each, think Connor quality. Potential starter, quality backup or valuable role/rotation player. I expect them to be splitting it depending on how they grow and play in the meantime. That will put us up right about the $148.4M range and we are up to about 47-50 guys on the roster depending on what we are paying FA's. Feels like we are going backwards doesn't it? Difference is we have resigned our important FA's, a few smaller ones and have yet to make a single solitary cut or restructure in 2015. If you read closely you might notice I didn't mention resigning Murray. He is a top notch RB, but he is hurt a great deal of the time and RB's are replaceable. If his durability improves and he keeps his production I would try to keep him. But I wouldn't break the bank for it either.

Now it is time for possible cuts and restructures. Starting with the untouchable one first, Ware. Ware is now 2 years older and counts as $20.35M on the cap. His dead $ is $15.76M if we cut him, or if he retires. His base salary is $13,75M for 2015. He will be 33 in Oct 2015 and if his injuries continue to mount the Boys will have little choice but to make a hard decision. You want to say Ware will be a Cowboy for life, but look at Emmitt. Sometimes the cap sucks and IMO Ware will be a cap casualty if his injuries continue to mount. His pay simply isn't sustainable. I am choosing to cut Ware as a June 1st cut. I am eating $3.785M in 2015 and the remaining $7.59M in 2016,(hat tip for JJ for Pres on the June 1st cap info) that brings us down to $131.78M on the cap. That leaves us still with quite a bit of way still to go depending on the cap. Some experts say it will jump in 2015, some say 2016. So we might be close to safe, but I am going to do a bit more anyway as we still need room for the rookie pool. I am going to cut Scandrick next, his cap hit is $7.1M and cutting him will only cost us $3.6M in dead money. That gets us down to $128.28M on our running 2015 cap total.

At this point they should be down to under what the cap will be, or close to it. So I am going to stop making personnel moves. Now I am going to roll over my leftover cap from 2014. I had $6.365M in space and that will bring me down to $121.92M for my cap in 2015. This is plenty to sign the rookie pool and some FA's. However if the Cowboys needed to open more cap space for resigning DeMarco or some other reason they could potentially also cut ties with Austin. His dead $ is $5.1M vs. a $9.63M cap hit to keep him. In fact, I could have cut Austin and kept Ware but I would have had to juggle a little bit more. Pass rushers fall off of a cliff at an earlier age than WR's and Austin is younger, thus why I chose to do it this way.

Notice I chose not to restructure Romo and am eating his cap hit of $27.7M, the Boys can't afford to keep restructuring him as a way to get cap space. His signing and restructure bonus is up to $11.77M this year. Part of that drops off this year, his yearly pay is much smaller in 2016 and the last of his signing bonus drops off after 2017. Then there is only his final restructure bonuses which drops off to $5.7M in 2017 and finishes at $2.5M in 2018. So we could cut Romo if needed in 2017 for a dead $ cap hit of $7.5M, or in 2018 for a dead $ hit if $2.5M. However he will only be 36/37 at this time and should still be going strong.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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