Everybody knows that the Cowboys are going to have to eat up a lot of their cap space signing Dak Prescott. If they have to play him on the franchise tag, that will be a disastrous $37.7 million hit. If they can get a long-term deal done, that hit will be lessened but he will still command a chunk of the cap space.
At this point, it’s unclear exactly what the salary cap will be in 2021. There has been talk of $175 - $180 million, but Spotrac has a page up with a $185 million cap. That would leave the Cowboys with roughly $27 million in space. With Dak eating up some of that, just how much will they have in the free agent game?
That’s something that will affect their ability to bring back their own free agents. Bleacher Report has identified one player for each organization that needs to be let go and allowed to sign elsewhere. For the Cowboys, that player is Aldon Smith.
Here is their reasoning.
The Dallas Cowboys took a chance on veteran pass-rusher Aldon Smith. After a nearly five-year hiatus from the NFL, Smith proved he can still play. He logged five sacks, 48 tackles and 20 quarterback pressures while starting 16 games.
The problem for Dallas is that Smith played on a one-year, $2 million deal. Now that he’s shown what he can still do, he is going to be a lot more expensive.
While the Cowboys are projected to have more than $27 million in cap space, they are going to need all that and then some to lock up quarterback Dak Prescott. While Dallas would likely love to have Smith back, it cannot afford to get into a bidding war.
Smith’s next chapter needs to be written elsewhere.
This is actually not far off from what we predicted when looking at the defensive free agents for the Cowboys over a month ago.
Smith proved he can still play at a high level in the NFL in 2020. His stats took a bit of a dive in the latter half of the season when it came to pressuring/sacking the quarterback, but he was still very active. And this will draw the attention of some teams that have a ton of money to spend this offseason. Teams like the Jaguars, Jets, Colts, Patriots and a few others.
A pass-rushing defensive end is one of the most valuable commodities in the NFL. There is no doubt teams will be kicking the tires on signing Smith. The question becomes how big of a contract will he get, and will the Cowboys be inclined to match it.
If Dallas didn’t have DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, they would probably be more desperate to get Smith under contract. But with two guys who can start, it’s more about getting depth and rotation guys, something they can probably do cheaper than what Smith will get.
On the other hand, having a fierce pass rush can be half the battle of producing a winning defense. Smith may just be getting back into NFL form and 2021 could be a true comeback year with high production.
What’s you take BTB? Will the Cowboys bring back Aldon Smith?