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Wednesday, February 19, 2014
What should Cowboys do with Carr?

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- In the 2012 offseason, Cortland Finnegan and Brandon Carr were the top two cornerbacks in the free-agency market.

Carr
The St. Louis Rams signed Finnegan to a five-year, $50 million deal. The Dallas Cowboys signed Carr to a six-year, $60 million deal that will void to five years. The Cowboys wanted the extra year on to help them spread out the cap hit when they restructured his contract in 2013.

There have been recent reports that the Rams will cut Finnegan if he does not take a substantial pay cut.

There have been no discussions regarding a pay cut between Carr and the Cowboys, and there don't figure to be.

The situations involving Finnegan and Carr demonstrate the dangers of free agency. There was not a soul who believed the Cowboys made a mistake in signing Carr, who has not missed a game in his career and filled a need as a man-press cornerback.

After two years, there has to be some regret. Carr has six interceptions in two seasons. He has had his moments, but it is almost impossible to live up to the contract. The same goes for Finnegan, who is three years older than Carr.

Carr is set to count $12.217 million against the cap in 2014. His play tailed off at the end of the 2013 season, but he was hardly alone on a defense that finished last in the NFL.

While the Rams can save cap money by releasing Finnegan, such a move by the Cowboys with Carr would cost them $4.6 million. The only way they could release him this offseason that would make sense would be designate him a June 1 cut and push dead money into 2015. If they do that, Carr would count $12.15 million against the 2015 cap, which is more dead money in one player than the Cowboys will carry into 2014 with about 10-12 players.

The Rams structured Finnegan's deal differently with a lower signing bonus ($5 million) compared to Carr's ($10 million). Carr's base salary in 2013 was set to be $14.3 million until the Rams turned that into a signing bonus last offseason to create cap space.

It's a tool every team uses to create cap space. The Cowboys will use it this offseason on Tony Romo and Sean Lee to pick up space. They could create more space by restructuring Carr's contract, but would it be worth it?

They would increase their proration dollars going forward, which would be cap-prohibitive in 2015 and beyond.

The Cowboys' best move with Carr this year might be to do nothing at all.