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Cowboys 2016 Salary Cap: A New Contract For Brandon Carr?

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Is there a creative option for correcting Brandon Carr's cap number to match his on-field performance?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2012 offseason the Cowboys found themselves in a situation that required action. The team's cornerback position was extremely depleted, and the team looked to the free agent market for a starting-level corner. Their target, the moment the market opened, was Brandon Carr. As the ink dried on the five year, $50.1 million contract, fan and media expectations for the Carr skyrocketed. For the most part, Carr is seen as a disappointment, and rumors have circulated far and wide that the Cowboys could look to release the veteran defensive back to take advantage of $6.38 million in possible cap savings.

But what if the Cowboys look at the fact that Carr has never missed a start in 128 opportunities in his eight NFL seasons, and then look over at their depth chart and see the lack of any healthy and established corners on the list, and decide that they need a reliable player like Carr on their roster? Could they gain some cap room by looking at Carr's contract a different way?

Before we get into my idea, let's look at what his current deal looks like from 2016 forward. Note that the last year of the contract (2017) was added as a voidable year when the Cowboys restructured Carr's contract in 2013.

Year Base Salary Prorated Bonus Total Cap Hit
2016 9,100,000 4,717,000 13,817,000
2017 0 2,717,000 2,717,000

Now let's assume that rather than releasing Carr, the Cowboys could decide to take another action, allowing them to retain Carr at a lower cost, without the aggressive negotiating required to cut a player's salary.

My idea? A contract extension, allowing the Cowboys to spread the cap hit for this year's base while retaining him to be a part of the team.

The particulars of the deal, three years, $11 million, with a $4 million signing bonus and $7 guaranteed.

Year Base Salary Prorated Bonus Total Cap Hit
2016 1,000,000 6,050,333 7,050,333
2017 2,000,000 4,050,333 6,050,333
2018 4,000,000 1,333,333 5,333,333

The structure of my proposal provides a way for the Cowboys to generate a respectable, but maintainable salary of less than $4 million per season, while still paying Carr $7 million in cash that is guaranteed between 2016-2017 providing additonal security for him.

This contract structure is designed to create the same amount of cap space as releasing him, but it is one way of keeping him on the roster. There are obviously many more possible permutations of a contract extension that lowers Carr's cap hit, not all of them this low.

Ultimately though, it all boils down to this: Should the Cowboys attempt to keep Carr at a lower rate our should they cut Carr and continue rebuilding their secondary with newer pieces?