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The Dallas Cowboys might be in a tight salary cap situation come 2021

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With the new cap deals, Cowboys management might have to get creative.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Covid-19 has impacted everything around us and continues to do so. As we are just about seven weeks away from the NFL’s regular season beginning some proper measurements needed to be taken by those involved, and as of Friday there is reason to be optimistic about a season happening (or at least starting with the intention of finishing).

A lot of things had to be figured out between players and owners regarding the immediate future of the National Football League and finances were among the things sorted and contextualized. It was agreed that there would be a salary cap floor of $175M in 2021 (with this year’s cap remaining unchanged) although that floor could rise if revenue is better than anticipated.

It is difficult to see how any floor could ultimately rise so there is high reason to believe that $175M would be the salary cap for next year. This would make for quite the challenge for many teams and the Dallas Cowboys are among them.

Next year’s salary cap situations could be not so great

If the salary cap were, in fact, to be $175M next year then the Cowboys would have very little room for error. OverTheCap.com took a look at how things currently stand projecting into next year and a hypothetical cap of $175M and the Cowboys have just about $2.8M in salary cap space.

There are actually eight teams that project to be over the cap (the Philadelphia Eagles are by far the most far gone) so it’s not like the Cowboys are the ones stuck in a kobayashi maru, but still, this is a train coming at the team down the tracks less than a year from now and they have to be prepared.

Unfortunately the Cowboys were unable to get a long-term deal done with Dak Prescott and if they have to place the franchise tag on him again next season (a high possibility) then his cap charge will be $37.7M. That is 21%. Yikes.

This is just one of a few complications facing the Cowboys, but there are obviously a lot of players that are going to be massively impacted as well.

Contract year players are going to be in difficult situations

Recently here at BTB we took a look at how the Cowboys might’ve adjusted to make quick salary cap space if this year’s cap had seen a change through all of these discussions. That did not happen so some of those things aren’t as necessary.

With so little cap space to go around the entire league next year, the players that are up for new deals are going to hit a market that doesn’t have a lot of room to play. Again, this goes for plenty of players around the league, but there are some notable examples on America’s Team.

Noteworthy Dallas Cowboys entering contract years

  • Dak Prescott
  • Chidobe Awuzie
  • Jourdan Lewis
  • Xavier Woods
  • Tyrone Crawford
  • Sean Lee
  • Joe Looney

There are obviously more players than this that are entering contract years with the Cowboys, but these are players that we could all see the team conceivably keeping after season’s end. It is possible that they play themselves to the point that another team has interest, but if said interested team has no cap space to work with then it’s not like the offers are going to be large and of a plural variety.

It is possible that we see a lot of players take one-year, prove-it deals in 2021 so as to position themselves for a more normal free agency in 2022. There are some that think this might play a factor of sorts in the Dak Prescott negotiations (the thought being that it would be difficult for another team to afford him so his price might drop), but Dak knows the Cowboys aren’t going to let him hit the open market which is what will force the franchise tag situation.

There is going to be a lot of necessary balancing in about eight months and the Dallas Cowboys are going to be in some warm, but not quite hot, water. Hopefully they have enough success this season that it’s all easier to stomach, but that payday is coming soon and it is not slowing down.