With the 2016 draft completed and all the premium free agents off the market, most of the big money decisions are over for the Dallas Cowboys. But even with all that out of the way, the team could still make a move that could impact their future by offering up an early extension to one of their own players. As recent history shows, the team is no stranger to pulling off this type of maneuver. Over the last three seasons, the Cowboys have used the offseason to give one special player a contract extension to lock them down for years to come.
In 2013, they gave Sean Lee a six-year, $42 million deal. Lee would have earned $630,000 that season under his original contract, but the team was proactive in signing him before he hit the free agent market.
In 2014, Tyron Smith still had two years remaining on his contract due to the team picking up his fifth-year option for $10 million. Rather than letting his contract play out, the team restructured a deal for eight years, worth $99 million.
And last season, the team added a little extra time on Orlando Scandrick’s deal that would incorporate a pay increase, keeping their best corner happy for years to come. The Cowboys avoided any type of hold-out and properly rewarded their veteran corner for the high level play he has given them over the years.
That’s how the Cowboys have been doing business lately. They give out long-term deals to the players they want to keep around, who have proven their value to the team. And timing means everything. There could be good reasons to wait. Maybe they want more time to evaluate the player? But there are also good reasons to move in and get these deals done.
Could there be any justifications for working some type of extension this offseason? And who would be an ideal candidate to receive this extension?
The Cowboys center will not be a free agent next season because the team picked up his fifth-year option for 2017, so the team still has a couple years to figure out what they want to do with him. And since his 2016 base salary is only $1.3 million, why would the Cowboys consider messing with Frederick’s contract this early? You would expect the front office to keep him on the roster for years to come so a long-term deal seems inevitable, but what would be the purpose of addressing it right now? Well, the Cowboys have a little bit of leverage at the moment as Frederick isn’t making very much this season so an extension now puts more money in his pocket. Next year, he’ll be due $8.8 million for that fifth-year option so some of that leverage will be gone. Frederick shouldn’t have any problem playing for that amount. And his stock is still climbing. Another Pro Bowl season under his belt will just drive up his price.
The team knows what they have in Frederick so they could pull off what they did with Tyron Smith and extend him early.
There have been a lot of mixed feelings going around regarding Williams and his value to the team. One thing that seems a little clearer, however, is his future with this team. The cold reality is that the Cowboys have a lot of money tied up in several other players, and there won’t be much cash lingering around to pay a number two wide receiver. Regardless of what some fans think of Williams, he will have more value to other teams. And if you look at some of the contracts going out to similar WRs, his services won’t come cheap.
Would the Cowboys be interested in trying to extend him now? His base salary is $1.66 million for 2016 so if the Cowboys wanted to give him some money now, it could lessen his overall price. This type of deal may not appeal to either side as things could work out better just to let him play out his contract. The Cowboys still have another draft to find his replacement and Williams could haul in a better contract by waiting it out.
Some fans think the team might go a different direction when it comes to finding their future number two receiver...
@DannyPhantom24 Butler prime candidate for early extension. Small raise to DAL a big one for him. Protects DAL in case of a huge breakout yr— William Steele (@BecauseCowboys) May 25, 2016
After Dez Bryant went down with a broken foot in week one last year, the Cowboys traded a fifth-round pick (but also got a sixth-rounder and drafted Anthony Brown) to the Oakland Raiders to get Butler. While he had his own health issues and only played in seven games, he flashed some skills that might be of some help to the Cowboys. Butler has the size and speed to be a potential down field threat. As Ryan Ratty stated in a recent article, Butler's skills make him an intriguing candidate.
In a player like Butler, the Cowboys have a guy that can do a variety of things for the offense. At 6' 3", 215 pounds, Butler is a bigger body at the receiver position and showed in 2015 that his explosiveness can make defenses key in on him. To go with his size, he has sub 4.4 speed, allowing him to take the top off the defense and make plays downfield by going up for the football and coming down with it.
And as we’ve seen with Laurent Robinson – you don’t have to be a special player to be special to Tony Romo.
What if Butler started impressing at camp? He’s only due to make $675,000 this season, but if the Cowboys see an opportunity to buy low so they can get a player cheap, would they strike a deal? Then again, the team may prefer something a little more dependable than a receiver who has played limited snaps with the offense.
Up til this point, the main reasoning to work out an extension is keeping the price more affordable later. That is not the case for Church. The Cowboys veteran strong safety has a base salary of $4.2 this upcoming season. He won’t be making that amount next season. While some fans may have had their fill of Church over the years, he’s been a reliable fixture in the secondary. He’s only missed one game over the last three seasons. While his play doesn’t wow many fans, he’s still a solid player.
The Cowboys could attempt to shave off some of his 2016 cap hit and spread out that money by offering him some more years. Church isn’t likely to get any overly enticing offers in free agency, so taking a new deal could be more appealing to him. It's only a $500,000 dead money hit to cut him, so that could make him more inclined to play it safe and take a new deal. It may not seem like a good idea to add more time to his stay, but the Cowboys didn’t do much to address the safety position this offseason. This could buy the team a little more time to get themselves situated.
Waiting until the last minute isn’t always a good thing and the Cowboys may look to take care of business now. Would you like to see any of these players given an extension? Or do you have someone else in mind?