- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a 24-hour span, the Dallas Cowboys created roughly $23 million in salary cap space on Thursday.
The Cowboys didn't cut a single player, but that doesn't mean anything. The Cowboys have a pressing need in getting quarterback Tony Romo signed to a long-term deal. He's under contract for the 2013 season, but the team would like to reduce his team-high $16.8 million cap number. Getting Romo's cap numbers down should help the Cowboys make any potential moves in free agency.
Another move regarding the Cowboys centers around defensive end Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys have until Monday to franchise him for $10.6 million. If not, he officially hits the free agent market on March 12.
But to extend Romo and give Spencer a new contract, the Cowboys have to clear more salary cap space.
So what happened on Thursday might not be the end of things for the Cowboys in terms of creating salary cap space. When you release players it comes with a financial and on-the-field price. Dead money for some players, such as Doug Free and Spears is carried over to the next year.
Replacing Free in the starting lineup at tackle could be Jermey Parnell. But now you must find a swing tackle.
If you send Spears, a trusted veteran, home, it creates competition at defensive end for younger players. Jason Hatcher, Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford, all defensive ends, have secure spots in 2013 but finding backups who can play in the new 4-3 scheme are necessary.
Losing Vickers is another interesting problem. The Cowboys value the fullback position and signed Vickers last season over Tony Fiammetta because they thought he was a better player. Well, cutting Vickers after one season, to create cap space, tells you his impact wasn't as big as we thought it would be, given the Cowboys finished 31st in the NFL in rushing.
Finding a younger player at this position wouldn't hurt either.
So while the Cowboys are under the cap, more moves are expected.