In the move Hall Pass, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are given a week off from marriage where they can do whatever they please without consequences. Now they get themselves in some crazy situations as one would expect since it’s a movie. For me personally, if I was given a week reprieve from marriage, I would most likely spend it reviewing countless hours of old Cowboys game tape, eating several high-salt content sandwiches, and testing the limits of how long I can wear the same shirt before it becomes a problem. Yeah, I know - that’s the rock-star lifestyle I’d live if I had some “me” time.
While it can be nice at times to have some freedom to make mistakes, life doesn’t always oblige. When it comes to lucrative contracts that Jerry Jones has put together over his tenure with Dallas, there is a long list of decisions that he wishes he would have been given clemency for. Fortunately for the Cowboys, the front office has cleaned that up quite a bit. Despite always hearing that the Cowboys are in salary “cap hell” the team actually gets really good use from their financial resources.
But not every contract is producing dividends. The team still has some investments that Jerry might wish he could have a pass on. Of course, there is a lot of debate among Cowboys Nation as to who is worth what and which player should be kicked to the curb. When you factor the dead money associated with that player, it makes the decision even more challenging. But what if you didn’t have to take that into consideration? If you were the GM, and had a one-time amnesty clause to eliminate their dead money cap hit, which contract would you want to get out of? Here are some candidates of some names I hear come up a lot as it pertains to not living up to their contract.
Contract Details: $25M dead money hit, three-year annual cap hit of approx $17M
If you find it absurd that Bryant is being listed here, then good for you. Dez is every bit worth the money he is getting. There are a lot of good receivers in the league, but there are only a few that have the talent that Bryant has. Our own Joseph Hatz recently wrote a piece explaining why Bryant is still one of the games elite receivers.
Bryant made game-changing, signature plays after his return against the Eagles, Steelers, Ravens, Vikings, Lions, and of course against the Packers in the playoffs. Contested catches on jump balls downfield in traffic, fades down around the goal line, and physical runs after the catch.
So why is Bryant’s name mentioned? That’s a good question that would be better answered by those who don’t see him as the game-changer he is, however, with a cost of $17M per year, one can’t deny the lofty expectations that brings. There is not a lot of room to slip to allow him to fall in that “under-performing” category. And when he misses some time due to injury, that’s all it takes to build a case.
A free pass on Bryant would give the team some enormous cap relief, but they would then have to seek out another phenomenal pass catcher to fill his shoes. That’s not an easy task.
Contract Details: $17.65M dead money hit, four-year annual cap hit of approx $10M
There is a good chance that Crawford would walk away the clear winner of this hall pass experiment. Some fans are already looking to kick him to the curb, but who knows if they’ve taken his contract into consideration when expressing those feelings. So if the dead money element is removed, then it would be a much easier choice for people to make.
Whether you like him or not, there isn’t much to argue when it comes to Crawford not performing to the level of his contract. Sure there have been injuries that have hindered his effectiveness and it doesn’t help that the team is constantly shuffling him around, but whatever the reason - Crawford is not producing how we were all hoping.
Not only would this free up a lot of cap space, but unlike Dez - his replacement wouldn’t be as hard to find. In fact, he might be already on the roster. This one seems like an easy choice.
Contract Details: $13.1M dead money hit, three-year annual cap hit of approx $9M
Remember when people thought Sean Lee was a wasted investment? After a career filled with injuries, it wasn’t that surprising that fans were cursing the Cowboys front office for giving him so much money. But what a difference a couple healthy seasons make. Following one of his healthiest seasons of his career (14 games) in 2015, he made it through the entire 2016 season unscathed. He played in every game last year except the season finale when he was a healthy scratch. The coaches cut his tape before the game to ensure that Lee would be able to participate in his first ever playoff game.
A healthy Lee has changed everyone’s tune on his contract and it would be hard to find anyone that wouldn’t pay that price for an All-Pro linebacker. Of course there might be some that still feel uneasy about his durability. Have the Cowboys just been lucky these last two seasons and maybe that luck will eventually run out? Shame on you for even thinking that!
Contract Details: $6.7M dead money hit, three-year annual cap hit of approx $5M
The Cowboys brought in Thornton to beef up their interior line on defense as the Nick Hayden era in Dallas sadly had finally come to an end. What the team didn’t expect was that this position group would see some of it’s strongest production since Jason Hatcher was on the team. This was largely in part due to the great play of veteran Terrell McClain and rookie Maliek Collins. Together, they were outstanding helping the Cowboys defense lead the league in rushing yards allowed.
Thornton wasn’t a big part of their success in 2016 and with new free agent, Stephen Paea and the possible return to DT of Crawford, where does that leave Thornton? It leaves him severely overpaid, that’s where. If Crawford is not your choice to use the free pass, then there’s a good chance Thornton could be.
Contract Details: $6.1M dead money hit, three-year annual cap hit of approx $5M
All you have to do is draft three cornerbacks and suddenly the best corner on the team has become expendable. At least that has been the mindset of some people in recent weeks. Scandrick missed the entire 2015 season with a knee injury and dealt with a hamstring issue last year. It wasn’t until later in the year when the old Scandrick finally showed up. But that might have been too little too late for some as the “what have you done for me lately” philosophy looms large and at 30 years old, some people don’t seem to have a hard time letting him go. One slight mention of a trade rumor and fans are ready to ship him off.
Close your eyes for a moment and remember the passion O can bring to the team and think of what type of mentor he can be for the young corners. Keeping him around is a good idea.
Okay, now you can open your eyes.
Contract Details: $3M dead money hit, three-year annual cap hit of approx $3M
Not a lot of people were that happy when the team signed Carroll to a three-year deal in March, but the Cowboys needed to do something to fill the void left by the departure of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. This signing was the team’s safety net. But now, after drafting three cornerbacks, suddenly Carroll’s services doesn’t feel that important. And with the recent news of the DWI incident, fans like to distance themselves from trouble.
But if you are wanting to avoid trouble, then plugging this veteran in at cornerback until the rookies get acclimated might be a good idea. It’s not clear what Carroll could do to help the defense, but the only way to find out is to give him a chance.
Which player would you like to get rid of if the dead money wasn’t a factor?
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