- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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We've known for months that, when the time came, the ax wouldn't hurdle Terence Newman, and it didn't. The Dallas Cowboys have released the beleaguered cornerback who became the symbol of their second-half defensive problems, according to Todd Archer and Calvin Watkins.
The move saves the Cowboys either $4 million or $6 million against the salary cap, depending on the official timing of it and whether the NFL's 31 other owners decide two years from now that they didn't agree with it. (Yeah, I made that last part up.) The Cowboys also cut kicker David Buehler (which they announced, unlike the Newman move, and remains a secret for some reason) and, according to Todd and Calvin, restructured the contracts of cornerback Orlando Scandrick and tackle Doug Free. The Scandrick restructure converts $5.9 million of his $7.1 million base salary into bonus money. Similar deal with Free, as they convert $4.8 million of his $6 million base salary into bonus money.
All of the moves are designed for the salary cap, which the Cowboys need after the league docked them $10 million worth of cap room over the next two years for violating a handshake agreement the teams made to not spend too much during a supposedly uncapped season in 2010. Todd and Calvin calculate that Tuesday's moves cleared $15.82 million in 2012 cap room. Dallas is expected to be aggressive in free agency in spite of the sanctions, and it needs help at cornerback, safety and on the offensive line. Expect it to be mentioned in pursuit of the top cornerbacks on the market, such as Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan, once free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET.
Newman played well at the start of this season upon his return from injury, but he slowed down severely as the season went along. He gained an unfortunate sort of national notoriety in the season finale that decided the division title, when two Giants fullbacks were able to hurdle him while he tried to tackle them. The Cowboys were looking to upgrade from Newman last summer and likely would have cut him had they succeeded in signing Nnamdi Asomugha. But they held onto Newman instead, and the defense suffered for it.