The Uncuttables: exactly why Dallas’s cap management is hurting the team

Ever since Garrett came on as head coach he has talked about accountability and creating competition at every spot. These almost seem like blatantly obvious truisms for a successful football team, yet poor cap management is preventing that from happening.

There are too many players that cost Dallas significantly more to cut than to keep. Add that to the fact that they are heading into 2014 almost 24 million over the cap and you have a recipe for zero accountability. The Cowboys are building a roster of "uncuttables".

What exactly makes a player uncuttable? Primarily it’s a relationship between the amount of salary cap available and the amount of negative cap hit from cutting the player. There are other factors that can come into play with creative cap management (which the Cowboys are already *forced* to exploit), but for the purposes of this discussion I think we can leave them out since these strategies generally just pushes the cap investment to a different player that likely becomes uncuttable as a result. For the sake of brevity and comparison across teams, I will limit the cap burden to at least -$2,000,000.

So if a player will cost his team at least $2,000,000 to cut, they are on the list. If a team has 20 million in cap space, maybe that is not a big deal, but for Dallas, that probably means that player will not be cut. I will also use a term to express their relationship between the cap room and the penalties from these players. I’ll call it Cutting Room and it’s calculated like so: (Cap Room) - (the combined penalties of the uncuttables) = Cutting Room. The larger the Cutting Room number is the better and conversely the farther below zero it is, it gets worse.

Looking at the past 4 Super bowl participants, we can see four teams that have considerably more leverage and freedom to reshape their roster going into the 2014 offseason.

Cap room: $1,029,037
No Uncuttables
Cutting Room: $1,029,037

Cap Room: $7,003,672
P.Manning: $5,000,000
S.Williams: $3,041,250
Total: 2 players for $8,041,250
Cutting Room: -$1,037,578

San Francisco
Cap Room: $7,012,930
A.Davis: $2,201,070
E.Reid: $5,011,355
Total: 2 players for $7,212,425
Cutting Room: -$199,495

Cap Room : $12,546,887
J.Flacco: $23,400,000
R.Rice: $5,500,000
E.Dumervil: $6,125,000
M.Elam: $2,670,910
Total: 4 players -$37,695,910
Cutting Room: -$25,149,023

Cap Room: -$23,757,502
T.Romo: $19,908,000
B.Carr : $4,651,000
S.Lee: $6,000,000
O.Scandrick: $3,602,500
M.Claiborne: $5,175,069
D.Bailey: $3,200,000
T.Frederick: $2,717,740
Total: 7 players $42,254,309
Cutting Room: -$66,011,811

Wow. Just wow. These teams all put together Super Bowl rosters and not one of them has half of the negative cutting room that Dallas has. Ok, it has been pointed out that Seattle and SF are riding a bit of a rookie QB contract anomaly and when they pay their QB’s they will be worse off. However, Denver paid Peyton Manning without even incurring 5% of the liability that the Cowboys have. Even Baltimore which just paid Flacco doesn’t even amount to half of Dallas.

What makes it sting even more is that 4 of the Uncuttable players are on the underperforming Dallas Defense. Do we really like the thought that our top three corners simply cannot be cut? Ugh.

Obviously, you generally don’t plan on having real competition at the QB spot when you’ve signed them to a franchise size deal. Let’s slice those numbers a little differently to see if we can sift out the franchise QB factor. We’ll spot the teams the non-rookie franchise QB salary and see how they compare.

Seattle: $1,029,037
San Francisco: -$199,495
Denver: $3,962,422
Baltimore: -$1,749,023
Dallas: -$46,103,811

Wow, that didn’t help Dallas at all! The number will probably shift some when Tony’s contract gets restructured, but they ain’t gonna come up with 40 million!

I didn’t crunch the numbers, but I did peek at some other teams like New Orleans, New York and Green Bay, that have paid franchise QB’s and none of them are even close to Dallas. Yet all of them have seen more success than Dallas during Garrett’s tenure. Hmm…

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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