Cap space won't create enough room

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
1:00
PM ET
The Dallas Cowboys will get under the $133 million salary cap by March 11 -- which isn't a big deal because every NFL team gets under the cap.

The restructured contracts of Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick and releasing a few other players allows that to happen.

But don't get too excited.

The Cowboys won't have enough money to snag a major free agent or retain one of their own with the space that's left. The Cowboys will have $11.8 million in dead money to deal with in 2014 in addition to trying to upgrade the talent base through the draft, potential new contracts for Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith and the ability to maintain space to sign free agents during the season are the major reasons.

Last season, the Cowboys didn't have a lot of money to sign a high-priced free agent. The team signed mid-level players such as Justin Durant and Will Allen in free agency only to release Allen two months into the season, and Durant dealt with injuries for a bulk of the season until being placed on injured reserve.

This year the Cowboys' biggest free agent need is the defensive line, but it appears the draft will solve those needs. However, Jason Hatcher, the defensive tackle, becomes a free agent and the team won't franchise him at $9.6 million. Hatcher will test the market and he said at the end of the season he wanted to sign with the highest bidder.

That won't be the Cowboys.

Yet, the Cowboys can get an additional $5.5 million in savings if they release wide receiver Miles Austin and designate him a post-June 1 cut. But the Cowboys won't receive that savings until after June 1.

So while it's good the Cowboys will get under the cap and get space, becoming a player in free agency, major free agency, isn't happening.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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