The Dallas Cowboys have been fairly quiet during the "legal tampering" period preceding the official start of NFL free agency at 4 p.m. ET on March 10, but that may be about to change. The Cowboys just took a major step to significantly increase their available cap space.
The Dallas Cowboys freed up $8.16 million in salary cap space Monday by restructuring the contract of left tackle Tyron Smith.
The Cowboys triggered a built-in restructure within Smith's contract that converted $10.2 million of his fully guaranteed $11.039 million base salary in 2015 into signing bonus money.
That pushes the Cowboys' salary cap space to a little more than $11 million available if the club wants to add players when the NFL's free agency period officially opens at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
This move has been long anticipated, and as is stated above, this was built into Smith's contract from the beginning. There is no real surprise here. But what is interesting about this is that the Cowboys took the step with less than 24 hours to go until the official opening of free agency, which may indicate that they are planning to get some contracts done quickly.
The team has not been one of the ones that have been extremely active so far, so active that the NFL has taken the extreme step of sending a sternly worded letter to the teams about violating the rules against revealing the results of the early negotiations prior to the official start of free agency. With multiple deals already announced, such as the one bringing Ndamukong Suh to play for the Miami Dolphins, and at least one deal looking like it may be falling apart as Frank Gore starts to have second thoughts about signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys have not revealed anything. But the timing of the Smith restructure could be linked to the one remaining undone task that the Cowboys have. There were three priorities for Dallas, and two of them, making sure Dez Bryant would be retained and re-signing Doug Free, are taken care of. The last one would be to re-sign DeMarco Murray. Could this be a signal that there may be a deal pending for him?
At one time, it was looking like there was no chance that Murray would remain a Cowboy, as his price was expected to be bid up (I freely admit to being in this camp most of the time since the end of the season). But recently Bill Polian, who was named NFL Executive of the Year three times, stated that the asking price for Murray was just too high. And during the next to last day of legal tampering, there have been several indications that other teams have not been bidding for Murray the way they were expected, opening the door for the Cowboys.
One of the teams that was thought to be interested in luring Murray away was the Indianapolis Colts, but they are now being linked to Gore's cold feet about his Eagles deal. This is more support for the idea that the running back market has dried up on the eve of free agency.
There are also similar things being put out about a possible deal with Rolando McClain. The apparent silence from Dallas, which has caused concern from some fans, may just be because the team actually was following the rules.
We should find out something soon. The timing of things would indicate that there will be some news out of Dallas tomorrow.