I have watched several podcasts and listened to a lot of fans criticize the Cowboys, more specifically Stephen Jones AKA “Cap Boy” for the unwillingness to spend the $22.4m in cap space that the cowboys currently have available. I’m sure you have heard the same. Sign Wagner, Von wanted to come to Dallas, why not pay Coop his $20m and why cut Collins if they are not going to use the space created.
I thought I would dive in and see if it’s possible to make sense of it all. Let me start by saying I am not defending or criticizing any of the moves the cowboys have made. I personally think Dallas needs depth at LB, have a need for a WR until Gallup returns and swing tackle is a huge question mark. I simply want to look at the numbers and timeline to see if, as a fan, I can figure out the logic behind the decisions.
It’s important to remember the timelines. Cooper was traded to the Browns as the first move freeing up 16m in cap space pre-June 1st. At the time, if memory serves correct, the cowboys were up against the cap. Now and in hindsight, fans say why not just keep the 20m on the books. Ok, that would currently place Dallas with $2.4m in cap space. The intent was to also sign Randy Gregory whose first-year cap hit is $5.6m. By my math that’s $3.2m over the cap. So, keep Coop and sign Randy but dump who? Gallup? Kearse maybe? Hooker? What about Armstrong? I’m sure they wouldn’t have signed Fowler. Again, not defending these decisions just analyzing.
How about not hitting Schultz with the franchise tag thus freeing up another $10.9m. Could have kept Coop, signed Randy, and made every other single signing. That math would have the cowboys at $6.8m under the cap or $9.7 without Fowler. Don’t forget, that tag was placed on Schultz the week before Coop was traded.
The NFL allows teams to roll 11% of the existing cap space into next years cap this year equaling $23m. I do not believe the Cowboys sitting on $22.4m is a coincidence. What I believe, their plans got screwed up when Randy went to the Broncos. I think the Cowboys had every intention, from the beginning, to roll as close to 11% into 2023. They always planned to release Collins, trade, or release Coop, sign Randy along with the others, minus Fowler, and enter a long-term deal with Schultz to reduce his cap number.
Doing the above without signing Shultz to a long-term deal still gives the Cowboys roughly $20m to roll into next years cap. Restructuring Shultz, using Njoku’s contract extension with the Browns, Dallas would have around $27m in current cap space, a surplus of $4m that can ‘t be rolled. I do not think they will sign Shults to a long-term now because any dollar they save, they must spend.
So why roll $22.4m into next years cap? Dak’s cap hit in 2023 balloons to $49m. Diggs is eligible for a new contract going into next year and so is CeeDee, with the Cowboys having the option of a 5th year on the latter. Over the Cap estimates the 2023 salary cap going up to $216m. With the new TV revenue, I think it will be higher than that but if they are correct, Dallas has 68 players under contract with the top 51 players putting them $5.5m over that cap number. That is without Shultz under contract. Rolling $22.4m into 2023 gives the Cowboys almost $17m under the cap.
Agree or disagree, these numbers do provide some insight on what the Dallas Capboys might be thinking.