- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Hey, did you see who the Dallas Cowboys picked up in free agency Wednesday? Yeah, that's right. Same guy they signed Tuesday. Nobody.
The Cowboys are stuck up against the salary cap, as we have discussed here many times, until they find a way to get a contract extension for Tony Romo and/or Anthony Spencer. And even the moves they're making to save cap room aren't helping them right away. They decided Wednesday to release veteran defensive lineman Marcus Spears, but even that move doesn't help them until after June 1. Spears is designated a June 1 cut, as right tackle Doug Free is likely to be, so the Cowboys can't get the $2 million cap savings on him until then.
That (along with the expected release of Free) is likely to help the Cowboys sign their draft picks, but not to be factors in this early part of free agency. As of Tuesday morning, the Cowboys were $175,000 under the cap, which is kind of the same as being $1 under the cap, and until they get Romo's extension done (or, less likely, Spencer's), they're not going to be able to do much of anything in terms of signing players. The $5 million in league-imposed penalties they're still facing this year are a large part of the problem.
Why cut Spears now when they can't get the savings until June? Basically, it's a courtesy to Spears that allows him to look for work elsewhere in the meantime. They feel as though they have enough depth on the defensive line that they don't need to keep him around if they've decided they don't have a spot for him. So why not let him go find a job? Free's case is different, I believe, because they don't have as much depth on the offensive line as they do on the defensive line and they don't want to get caught short if they're unable to find a replacement for him.