2014 Cap Crunch: Out with the Old

I recently discovered the salary cap calculator on the and it's probably been the worst thing to happen ever in regards to my Cowboys addiction. I'm not a capologist by any means, but this is just a fun exercise in what I would do if I were GM (probably a good thing I'm not.) Here's a position by position breakdown of how I would attack the 2014 salary cap crunch.

Per Over the Cap, this is where we stand currently:

--Change Team--49ersBearsBengalsBillsBroncosBrownsBuccaneersCardinalsChargersChiefsColtsCowboysDolphinsEaglesFalconsGiantsJaguarsJetsLionsPackersPanthersPatriotsRaidersRamsRavensRedskinsSaintsSeahawksSteelersTexansTitansVikings
Year Total Liabilities Salary Cap Cap Room
2014 $148,739,426 $127,915,619 ($20,823,807)
2015 $121,948,582 $126,095,000 $4,146,418
2016 $97,916,776 $127,986,000 $30,069,224
2017 $77,459,400 $130,546,000 $53,086,600
2018 $29,500,000 $133,157,000 $103,657,000
2019 $27,500,000 $137,152,000 $109,652,00

After some finagling, I ended up with this: Now here's how I got there...

Year Total Liabilities Salary Cap Cap Room
2014 $113,007,676 $127,948,266 $14,940,590
2015 $100,441,632 $126,095,000 $25,653,368
2016 $71,854,376 $127,986,000 $56,131,624
2017 $58,404,500 $130,546,000 $72,141,500
2018 $32,963,000 $133,157,000 $100,194,000
2019 $27,500,000 $137,152,000 $109,652,000


Tony Romo

Kyle Orton

There's a lot of cap savings to be had right off the bat. Romo's 2014 cap number is $21.7M, but by converting all of his base salary to bonuses as the contract was originally intended, it saves $10.04M against the 2014 cap. Cutting Orton saves $995k against the 2014 cap.

Projected 2014 starter: Romo

Running Back:

Demarco Murray

Joseph Randle

Lance Dunbar

Tyler Clutts

I say let Tanner walk, hasn't really showed enough to demand a roster spot. Also, I say they part ways with Clutts and commit to the 11 and 12 personnel. Not too much change here.

2014 Starter: Demarco

Wide Receiver

Dez Bryant

Miles Austin

Terrence Williams

Cole Beasley

Dwayne Harris

Miles Austin has been hammpered with injuries (see what I did there) and has been essentially worthless when he has played. Please stop the madness! June 1 cut saves $5.5M after June 1 to sign draft picks. Dez is a FA after this year and that should be a HUGE priority going to next season, which is why I think we should be aggressive with shedding cap dollars this year and next.

2014 Starters: Dez/T-Will/Beasley(Slot Guy)

Tight End

Jason Witten

Gavin Escobar

James Hanna

I really think Witten's best years are behind him, but it with his contract, doesn't make a whole lot of sense to cut him now. You could restructure and save about $3M against the 2014 cap, but that increases his 2015 hit, so right now I'll leave his contract be and re-visit next year. I think with more playing time, Escobar proves why he was a 2nd rounder this year and Hanna is a gifted receiver if used properly.

2014 Starters: Witten/Escobar

Offensive Line

Tyron Smith

Ronald Leary

Travis Frederick

Mackenzy Bernadeau

Doug Free

Jermey Parnell

Phil Costa

Darrion Weems

The Cowboys can save $3M against the 2014 cap by cutting Costa and Parnell. Too high of a number for guys that don't play in my book. I think Free is a JAG but will stick around for another year as the starter at RT to keep the line continuity, but we should draft his replacement.

2014 Starters: Smith/Leary/Frederick/Movin Like Bernie/Free

Defensive Line

Demarcus Ware

Tyrone Crawford

Ben Bass

George Selvie

Everette Brown

Corey Irvin

Leon Lett

Ed "Too Tall" Jones...ok I'm not listing all of these

Here's where it gets hairy. By far the biggest problem with the 2013 squad, my solution? Blow it up completely and start from scratch. Hatcher was a great success story of a late-bloomer who finally fulfilled his potential. But he's 32 and coming off a career year, the price tag will simply be too high. We need to stop rewarding players for past production...cough...Jay Ratliff...cough. Anthony Spencer is interesting. We franchise tagged him in the off-season and he only played half of one game in 2013. Given that he's 30 and coming off a season-ending injury, he could come at a discount, but we have no idea if he's a fit at DE in the 4-3 scheme. Too much of a question mark for me, I decided to pass, best of luck to you Mr. Spencer. Which brings me to the next name, and it's a controversial one: Demarcus Ware. I said it in October ( and I stand behind my thesis: It's time for a clean break-up with Ware. He's slowed down dramatically the last couple years and the nagging injuries are a sign of his age. He's already come out and said that he's open to a re-structure but not a pay cut. Trading or cutting Ware would have the same impact on the cap. Most likely, he's untradeable given his cap hit, so I voted to release him. Just rip the band-aid off. Cutting him saves $7.4M in 2014 and he's completely off the books in 2015 to free up money to re-sign Dez and Tyron. So where does that leave us? A lot of young unproven guys with a lot of upside. Bold move, I know, but with the cap savings maybe we can get a cheaper DL in FA like a Corey Wootton or Willie Young. Then draft about 9 DL in May. So here's what I have for the 2014 D-line:

2014 Starters: DE-Tyrone Crawford 1 tech-FA/draft pick 3 tech-FA/draft pick DE-George Selvie or draft pick


Sean Lee

Bruce Carter

Justin Durant

Kyle Wilber

Devonte Holloman

Cameron Lawrence

Usually I'm not a fan of restructuring contracts and pushing cap dollars to future years, but Sean Lee doesn't look to be going anywhere soon. I'm ok with restructuring his deal, which frees up $3.8M this year. Justin Durant=JAG, cut saves $1.25M. Devonte Holloman looks like a steal and could challenge for a starting spot. Worst case, he fills in for Lee when Lee is out for 6 games next year.

Starters: Carter-Lee-Wilber


Brandon Carr

Morris Claiborne

Orlando Scandrick

BW Webb

Sterling Moore

With how bad the D-line was this year, I'm going to give basically the entire secondary a pass. No one should have to cover receivers for that long. Claiborne showed some flashes and I'm not ready to call him a bust yet given his injuries in his first two years and switching to a drastically different defensive scheme. I would re-structure Carr's bloated contract, saving $5M against the 2014 cap. Given that Carr is relatively young with upside, I'm ok with pushing those dollars forward.

Starters: Scandrick-Carr-Claiborne(Nickel)


Jeff Heath

JJ Wilcox

Barry Church

Matt Johnson

Jakar Hamilton

We're gonna let Danny McCray go here, too expensive for a special teams ace. I think Jeff Heath may have replaced him in that role. Heath is not an NFL-caliber starting safety by any means, but I think he could find a niche with 13 tackles on ST this year. No other cuts here, praying for a better pass rush next year and we'll have a better idea of what we have in these guys.

Starters: FS: Wilcox or draft pick SS: Church

Special Teams

Dan Bailey

Chris Jones

Bailey is almost automatic, need to keep this cat around. He's a RFA and I assigned him the 2nd-round tender, costing us about $2M against the cap. I say let Chris Jones go, we can do better in FA.

Starters: K-Bailey P-FA

Well there you have it, I played GM for a day and had a heck of a lot of fun with it. Now it's your turn, what would you do if you were Jerry?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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