The Cowboys' last pay cut worked out

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5
10:00
AM ET
If you’re wondering just what it means to a team’s salary cap when a player takes a pay cut, let’s review what the Cowboys did with Doug Free last year.

Free, the starting right tackle, was coming off a disappointing 2012 season.

Free
He was scheduled to make base salaries of $7 million in 2013 and $8 million in 2014, which produced cap numbers of $10.02 million in 2013 and $11.02 million in 2014.

That was too much for the Cowboys to deal with given their tight salary-cap situation.

Free was offered a reduction in pay; mainly his $7 million base salary in 2013 was cut in half to $3.5 million to create cap space.

Free agreed to the deal, so in 2013 he received a base salary of $3.5 million and this upcoming season he’ll take home $3.5 million again. The cap figures reduced to $6.52 million in 2013 and 2014.

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The interesting thing about Free is he had one of his better seasons in 2013, and it solidified the Cowboys’ decision in offering him the contract reduction.

Now, Free can still earn $8 million in base salary in 2015. It’s doubtful the Cowboys will let that happen because his contract voids if he’s on the roster on the 23rd day of the 2015 league year.

So as you watch the Cowboys in 2014, check out the preseason, where the development of tackles Darrion Weems and Jermey Parnell comes into focus.

If those swing tackles improve their skill sets, they might replace Free in 2015. Of course, the Cowboys have the ability to draft a tackle in May to create more competition.

While DeMarcus Ware thinks about his salary reduction, just look at what it did for the Cowboys and Free last season.

It worked out.

That time.
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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