It’s a paradox of sorts. The Cowboys just committed to spending $105 million more, but that ended up freeing up money for the 2019 season. DeMarcus Lawrence was counting roughly $20.5 million against the salary cap in 2019 on his franchise tag, but when the Cowboys signed him to his five-year, $105 million dollar contract, they brought down his 2019 cap hit to roughly $11.1 million.
And open up $9.4 million in cap space. He was counting $20.5 million on the tag before the deal was reached. https://t.co/TXadsBnKll— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) April 6, 2019
Lawrence received a $25 million dollar signing bonus, so if you do some cap math and note that the 2019 cap hit is $11.1 million, then for the final four years of his contract you can expect his cap hit to average around $23.5 million.
As noted by Archer above, this single move by the Cowboys added $9.4 million of cap space in 2019. Depending on your source the Cowboys had anywhere up to $10 million in cap space previous to the move. At a minimum, Dallas should have somewhere north of $15 million in cap space available and could be as much as $20 million.
They still have to be cognizant of some upcoming expenses. They do need money to cover their draft picks, but without a first-round pick that expense will be lower than usual and they only have six picks. Then they have the upcoming extensions, starting with Dak Prescott. But much like they’ve done with Lawrence, those can be structured so the big hit isn’t taken until a year or two down the road.
Given all that, should the Cowboys dip their toes back into the free agency pool? It’s likely at this point teams will wait until after the draft to see what they still need. But there are some good players still available at positions the Cowboys need. Let’s take a look.
Defensive tackles: Timmy Jernigan, Corey Liuget, Ndamukong Suh, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rodney Gunter, Danny Shelton
There is some definite talent available among that bunch. The Cowboys aren’t likely to go after the top-tier like Suh, but a player like Timmy Jernigan could be interesting. He’s still relatively young and has an attacking style of play.
Safety: Eric Berry, Tre Boston, Johnathan Cyprien, Glover Quin, Jahleel Addae, Kurt Coleman
The Cowboys flirted with Eric Berry but ultimately passed. They did sign George Iloka but based on their pre-draft visits it’s obvious they are still concerned with the position. Why Tre Boston doesn’t have a job is a huge mystery.
Running back: Jay Ajayi, Marshawn Lynch, T.J. Yeldon, LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, Spencer Ware
The Cowboys still need a backup running back. T.J. Yeldon is someone that has been mentioned for the Cowboys, especially because he is a capable receiver out of the backfield.
It’s not likely the Cowboys will do it, but they now have the financial resources to easily grab another player in free agency, one that is more than just a minimum contract project. If you were Cowboys GM, would you make a move to sign any of these players?