IRVING, Texas -- The NFL’s decision to dock the Cowboys $10 million in salary-cap space, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported, wounds the team’s ability to improve in free agency but does not kill it.
The Cowboys can spread that hit over the next two years if they choose but they were already planning on re-working a number of contracts to create enough salary-cap space anyway.
The Cowboys have triggers in the contracts of cornerback Orlando Scandrick and tackle Doug Free that would save them roughly $8.6 million in cap space. Re-working the contracts of DeMarcus Ware and Dez Bryant could net about another $4 million in space.
The Cowboys can create as much as $7.26 million in room on Tuesday by cutting cornerback Terence Newman (designated as a post-June 1 cut) and kicker David Buehler, who is scheduled to count more than $1.6 million against the 2012 cap and lost his job to Dan Bailey last year.
On Sunday the league announced the 2012 cap would be $120.6 million.
The Cowboys were carrying a credit of around $17.1 million over from 2011, which would have in effect made their cap $138.2 million in 2012. If the Cowboys chose to take a $5 million hit in each of the next two years because of the sanctions, then they would have a cap of roughly $133.2 million this year.
With the $8.856 million franchise tag on linebacker Anthony Spencer, the Cowboys would be just below that threshold and that would not including the tenders offers they would put on restricted free agent fullback Tony Fiammetta and exclusive rights free agents Jesse Holley, Clifton Geathers and Jermey Parnell.
Make the aforementioned contract and roster moves, and the Cowboys would have about $15 million to $17 million in cap room, which is plenty to sign a starting cornerback, guard, backup quarterback and Laurent Robinson depending on the structures of the deals.