2014 NFL Salary Cap Could Climb Even Higher Than Anticipated

DeMarcus Ware talks to Tyron Smith during training camp. - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 salary cap could possibly go as high as $135 million, a far cry from the $126.3 million announced as the initial estimate in December.

Trying to figure out the salary cap for the upcoming season is a tricky proposition. At the NFL Owners Meeting in December, the league informed teams that the salary cap for 2014 was expected to be $126.3 million per team.

In early February, Albert Breer of the NFL Network first reported that the $126.3 million might be a bit on the low side. Rumors quickly began swirling that the cap could come close to $130 million.

Last week, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the 2014 NFL salary cap will be $130 million. In a later article, Shefter added that another league source told ESPN that the projected salary cap could go as high as $132 million.

Today, Pro Football Talk ups the ante by throwing out a figure in the vicinity of $135 million.

Per the source, the cap could be a "few million" higher than $132 million.  If this means $3 million more than reported, the cap could be as high as $135 million.  That would amount to an 9.75 percent increase over last year, the biggest spike by far since the 2011 labor deal was negotiated.

Obviously, you need to be careful about taking these numbers at face value, because we don't know who those sources are and what their agendas are. The NFL will release the official number in soon, as teams needs to know what number they have to hit in time for free agency and the new league year. Clearly though, a big increase is in the works.

Any way you look at it, this is good news for the Cowboys. If the cap were to come in at $135 million, that would leave the Cowboys $17.2 million over the cap - peanuts by the Cowboys' cap standards. The Cowboys could clear $18.9 million of cap space and get under the cap with room to spare by restructuring Tony Romo, Brandon Carr and Sean Lee. Anything beyond that would be optional.

Restructuring Jason Witten and Orlando Scandrick could add another $6 million in cap space, bringing the Cowboys' total cap space to $7.8 million, and that's before touching DeMarcus Ware's contract, and before doing anything with Miles Austin.

The team can create enough space to do a lot of things this year, even though Stephen Jones said the team wouldn't be big players in free agency. If they wanted to, the Cowboys could probably sign Jason Hatcher to a new contract, but odds are they'll use the cap space to extend players like Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant, probably in that order.

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