IRVING, Texas -- As we continue our Fixing the Cowboys series this week, plenty of free-agent options are dancing in fans’ heads as they dream and scheme of ways to spend Jerry Jones’ money.
As executive vice president Stephen Jones said late last season, the Cowboys will be able to do whatever it is they want to do when free agency begins in March.
According to league figures, the Cowboys have $12.6 million in salary-cap room based off the 2011 cap of $120.375 million, and that includes the $28 million (or so) in dead money related to guys like Roy Williams, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Marion Barber, Andre Gurode and Igor Olshansky who were cut in 2011.
The 2012 cap is expected to remain flat or go up slightly.
The $12.6 million figure does not take into account the tender amounts the Cowboys have for their exclusive rights and restricted free agents or the space needed for their draft picks, but that will not significantly impair their ability to sign players.
The Cowboys can create more room against the cap by releasing cornerback Terence Newman and saving either $4 million or $6 million depending on whether they would want to count him as a post-June 1 cut.
They have triggers in the deals of left tackle (or right tackle) Doug Free and cornerback Orlando Scandrick that would lower their base salaries to the league minimum, turn the difference into signing bonus and save them about $8.6 million. Re-working DeMarcus Ware’s contract would open up about $3.3 million
All told, the Cowboys could have in the neighborhood of $20 million or so to spend when free agency begins.
That’s not a bad place to be.