This weekend marks the beginning of Daylight Savings Time (which means, I would assume, we are ending Daylight Wasting Time). It happens every year just like, um, clockwork.
So does the point at which the Dallas Cowboys get under the cap before free agency. The team just made two more moves, cutting Phil Costa and renegotiating Mackenzy Bernadeau's contract.
Cowboys didn't restructure Bernadeau deal. He took paycut but picked up $2m in guarantees over next 2 years. Lowered his cap figure in 14-15— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) March 7, 2014
Now all the people who have been going on and on incessantly about how bad Dallas' cap situation is this year can finally stop, and get on with going on and on incessantly about how bad Dallas' cap situation will be next year.
Those who are busy pursuing the impossible task of trying to make sense out of how the NFL cap works and those who are sputtering in rage that the Cowboys have once again gotten under the cap despite all the articles stating they could not possibly do so without cutting everyone might have missed the other meanings of the latest moves.
It should be somewhat obvious that Dallas is going to be looking for some offensive line help this season. With Costa gone, the team has very little depth in that unit. Bernadeau is now the default backup center. The only other guard currently with the team in any fashion is Chris DeGeare. Yeah, I don't know anything about him, either. Tackle is a little better, with Jermey Parnell and Darrion Weems with the team, but Parnell's name keeps coming up when the subject is "players on the cusp of being cut". The team also has John Wetzel. Who hangs out with DeGeare, I suppose.
All the talk about how badly the team has to draft defensive line may need some recalibration. Right now, with the status of Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware still up in the air, the Cowboys are still in far better shape there than on the offensive line, at least as far as pure numbers go. They could easily use three draft picks on the offensive line this year. Two would almost seem to be a bare minimum.
At the same time, the team has shown the two options it is willing to pursue in dealing with Ware's contract. They can cut him, or he can look to what the team has been doing with other players who they think are now overpaid, as Mike Fisher put rather succinctly.
Undo/redo Free. Undo/redo Bernardeau. Undo/redo D-Ware? #cowboys have a sensible blueprint here.— mike fisher (@fishsports) March 8, 2014
It can certainly be argued that Dallas put themselves into this situation with the contract they awarded Ware in the first place. Nonetheless, the team is showing signs that it will either get a better deal with Ware, or it will bite the bullet now on his dead money and content themselves with a net cap savings of nearly $7.5 million. I have heard there is some optimism at Valley Ranch about getting a lower priced deal from Ware, but Bob Sturm lays out some of the compelling arguments on why Ware should look to get paid elsewhere. Just a sample:
But, for a player who has put it all on the line for a franchise, he may not hold their opinion of his value and the necessity that he should "do what is right for the group". This is especially true if he sees the recent breakup with Jay Ratliff and the team who once stood right next to him and now sees Ratliff carrying on in Chicago. It is also true seeing how Anthony Spencer's value has fallen with his health and how Jason Hatcher's world has changed with free agency arriving. He may not be best friends with any of them, but you can believe that they have all shared discussions about how time is finite for a professional athlete and that Jerry Jones is the boss and is not missing any chances at making money. When his time comes to cut you off his payroll, he won't hesitate. So, you will have a choice to make.
It looks like both sides will be playing hardball here. And that would most likely lead to Ware finishing his career somewhere other than Dallas. Ware is, after all, operating at a very different level than either Free or Bernadeau. Where more security in exchange for less pay may make sense for them, it is entirely different for a man who is working on a $78 million contract.
While that may not be what many would want, it would at least be logically consistent with what the team has been doing. And that would be a good sign that there is a consistent, coherent strategy at work here. Given some of the chaotic ways things like, oh, coaching staff moves and hires have been handled, it would be good to see something being done with some semblance of a plan.