According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas, the Dallas Cowboys have been assigned a $5.792 million rookie pool with which to sign their new rookie class. The method for calculating the rookie pool is determined in the CBA and is based on the number, round and position of a team's selection choices in the draft.
This means that there is virtually no room for negotiation between a player's agent and the teams, effectively making rookie contract holdouts a thing of the past, as there is only a fixed amount of money available even for top tier picks. Archer writes that the Cowboys are expected to begin signing players as early as this weekend, and we're hearing out of Chicago that the 14th overall pick, CB Kyle Fuller, has already agreed to a contract with the Bears.
All nine Cowboys draft picks will be signed to four-year contracts, only first-round pick Zack Martin will be signed to a four-year deal that will include a 5th-year club option. That 5th-year option, which the Cowboys have just picked up on Tyron Smith, comes with a salary equal to the average being paid to the third-highest player at the position through the 25th highest paid player at that position. The 24 undrafted free agents now under contract have all been signed to three-year deals.
The rookie pool is a cap within the cap, but doesn't have a dollar-for-dollar correlation to the team's overall cap. KD Drummond explained the ins and outs of the rookie pool and its effect on the salary cap in a post a last year. Effectively, only a fraction of the rookie pool counts against the cap right now. A simple way to calculate the offseason cap space that is being eaten up by your rookie pool is the following formula:
Year One Rookie Pool – ($420,000 x number of draft picks)
For the Cowboys, because of the Rule of 51 and the way the rookie contracts are structured, this year's rookies will only count roughly $2 million against the offseason salary cap. Overthecap.com has the team-by-team details on how much cap space is required to accommodate the rookie pool. Overthecap.com also lists the team-by-team cap space, and it'll be comforting for Cowboys fans to know that the $2 million rookie pool cap hit fits neatly into the $5.6 million cap space the Cowboys currently have - and that's before the $5.5 million in cap savings from cutting Miles Austin kick in after June 1.
Once the season starts, however, the Rule of 51 is no longer in effect, and the entire cap numbers of the rookies who make the team must fit under the team’s overall cap. However, since the rookies are making the rookie minimum base salary and will likely replace players on the roster with a higher base salary, getting all those rookies on board will very likely save the team a bit of cap space.