Less than an hour before NFL teams could start actually signing free agents to contracts, the Dallas Cowboys released punter Chris Jones.
This is now official. Cowboys have released P Chris Jones, team announced. Move saves team $2 million in cash. He'll count $500,000 in dead money vs. 2021 salary cap. https://t.co/g1LVFDjCMw— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 17, 2021
As noted, this is hardly a surprising move. Jones had a decline in his production over the past couple of seasons as he dealt with some injury problems. When he went out last year, Hunter Niswander came in and was clearly doing a better job. Jones was a very good punter for several years, with a reputation as “the Puntisher” gained from a few tackles exhibiting a lot more physicality than we expect from the position. But the team is not looking for what he did in the past, they need to plan for this season, and Niswander makes a ton of sense.
The only thing creates a bit of interest here is the timing. Many of us predicted this move for that $2 million in space, but thought it would be done earlier rather than wait until the deadline for getting under the cap. The restructuring of the contracts of Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins made it unnecessary, but it seems likely that the extra bit of cap Jones’ release added was part of the calculations for free agency all along.
As the news was announced, the Cowboys were still looking to fill several holes with new players, most likely safety, cornerback, defensive tackle, and possibly linebacker. Free agency has moved past the first rush and probably most of the big deals, so this is the time Dallas likes to get most of their free agency hiring done. We may well see a flurry for them over the next two or three days, now that they have the Jones situation resolved.