Managing the Cap to Improve the Cowboys

When people say that Jerry Jones is not a very good GM, you need look no further than the current salary cap mess. Right now, the Cowboys have a LOT of money tied up in players they shouldn't and in players who are no longer with the team, According to Sportrac, here is the current snapshot:


Cap Hit 2013

Dead Money

Doug Free

$ 10,020,000

$ 10,020,000

Marcus Spears

$ 2,700,000

$ 2,100,000

Jay Ratlif

$ 4,072,000

$ 10,000,000

Gerald Sensabaugh

$ 2,400,000

Terence Newman

$ 2,000,000

Dan Connor

$ 1,350,000


$ 22,542,000

Yes, they have cut Spears, but he's still got two million in dead money that will go against the cap. But otherwise, would you want Doug Free or the money to use on getting help for the offensive line? What about Ratlif? Sure, he was great back in the day. But now?

Free, Ratlif and Newman are all part of the same problem: we overvalue players we have. We gave Newman a contract when he was 29 and not surprisingly, his play declined. And we're still paying for that contract. Ratliff was very good one year but has steadily declined, often battling injuries. Might the Kiffen defense help him? Sure. But wouldn't you rather have that money available for someone else? And Free is the worst case.

I admit, I wanted the Cowboys to lock up free. They were cutting a lot of veterans. And Free looked like something the team could build on. But I'm not watching Free go up against Spencer and Ware every practice. Did anyone wonder he well he would fair in the bull rush?

No team is perfect with evaluations but there has been a pattern of the Cowboys signing older players to big contracts and then either having to eat part of that contract or having to keep them on the roster because it would be too expensive to cut them.

And the above numbers don't take into account the $10MM Dallas was dinged for getting cute with the over-paid Austin bonus. Imagine if the Cowboys had an additional $10mm to $15mm to spend on free agents. Think of the upgrade available to this team right now.

Yes, the Cowboys have done a much better job since 2010 of bringing in talent through the draft and through signing and developing undrafted free agents. And yes, they had a LOT of injuries last year, especially on defense. And yes they were one game away from winning a weak division. But this team dominated no one. This team was the worst team in franchise history at running the football.

Could a lot of things break right next year? Sure. The division looks weak. Maybe the Cowboys will suffer fewer injuries. Maybe a few more players like Johnson and Wilbur will develop from the 2012 draft. Maybe the Cowboys will have another strong draft. Maybe they'll pick up another key piece on the cheap.

But imagine if they had $10mm to $15MM more to spend right now, because they managed talent acquisition better.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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