Dallas Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys

Breaking Down the Dallas Cowboys's 2013 Salary Cap: Where Is Money Best Spent?

Steven MirandaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2013

Breaking Down the Dallas Cowboys's 2013 Salary Cap: Where Is Money Best Spent?

1 of 12

    The Dallas Cowboys are in serious trouble heading into 2013.

    No, not because they missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season—it is because they are in salary cap hell.

    The Cowboys will have to figure out a way to get under the salary cap before the free-agency period even begins on March 12, 2013. The Cowboys are already about $25 million over the estimated $121 million salary cap.

    With the assistance of player contracts found at spotrac.com, the following is the Cowboys' dire salary cap situation.

Quarterbacks

2 of 12

    When you take a look at the cap hit that the Cowboys will take on Tony Romo, it is clear that Dallas has a huge decision on their hands regarding their veteran signal-caller.

    Romo will account for $17.228 million against the salary cap, or about 14 percent of the team's allowed total salary for 2013. That's a big number for a quarterback that has only won one playoff game as a starter for the Cowboys.

    QUARTERBACK
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Tony Romo QB $11,500,000 $ 5,728,000 $17,228,000
    Kyle Orton QB $ 1,350,000 $ 1,666,667 $ 3,016,667
    Nick Stephens QB $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Total: $20,649,667

    Since there is no indication that the Cowboys will part ways with Romo, the team will need to restructure his contract or, more likely, offer him a contract extension which will allow the Cowboys to bring that number down significantly.

Running Backs

3 of 12

    The Cowboys are not spending a ton of money at the running back position and it clearly showed last year.

    Felix Jones has played out his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent. And based on the number of touches saw near the end of the season, it is hard to see Jones back with the Cowboys next year.

    RUNNING BACK
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    DeMarco Murray RB $    620,313 $    190,500 $    810,813
    Lance Dunbar RB $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Lawrence Vickers RB $ 1,200,000 $    100,000 $ 1,300,000
    Phillip Tanner RB $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Total: $ 3,145,813

    DeMarco Murray’s inability to stay healthy will make the Cowboys look to add a running back either via free agency or the draft. If Murray can stay healthy and get back to the numbers he produced during his rookie season, his price tag of under a million dollars can be considered a steal.

Wide Receivers

4 of 12

    For the second straight season, Miles Austin failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving. He also had injury problems that saw him miss long stretches of some games.

    That being said, Austin will count about $8.2 million against the salary cap for the Cowboys. That is a ton of money for a player that is no longer considered the team’s number one receiver.

    WIDE RECEIVERS
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Anthony Armstrong WR $    630,000 - $    630,000
    Carlton Mitchell WR $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Cole Beasley WR $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Danny Coale WR $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Dez Bryant WR $ 1,557,500 $ 2,325,000 $ 3,882,500
    Donavon Kemp WR $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Dwayne Harris WR $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Jared Green WR $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Miles Austin WR $ 6,732,000 $ 1,570,000 $ 8,302,000
    Tim Benford WR $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Total: $16,024,500

    If they Cowboys keep Austin, you should expect that the team will ask him to restructure his deal so that the cap number can be reduced.

    With Kevin Ogletree becoming a free agent, the Cowboys need to find a way to bring in a solid third receiver; however, Dwayne Harris might have done enough near the end of the season to earn that role. If Harris continues his play into next season, the Cowboys are getting him for a bargain.

Tight Ends

5 of 12

    Jason Witten earned every cent last season. His 110 receptions were the most catches by a tight end in a single season ever.

    This year Witten will count for $8 million against the team’s salary cap. That’s almost five times more than the other three tight ends on the roster combined.

    TIGHT ENDS
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Jason Witten TE $ 5,500,000 $ 2,500,000 $ 8,000,000
    Andre Smith TE $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Colin Cochart TE $    555,000 - $    555,000
    James Hanna TE $    480,000 $     26,213 $    506,213
    Total: $ 9,541,213

    With Witten under contract through 2017, the Cowboys should be set at the tight end position for the next five years.

Offensive Line

6 of 12

    Clearly the biggest issue regarding the salary cap on the offensive line is that huge number being paid to right tackle Doug Free. Otherwise known as the human turnstile, Free had a horrible season last year.

    OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Kevin Kowalski C $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Ryan Cook C $ 1,100,000 $    150,000 $ 1,250,000
    Aderious Simmons OG $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Darrion Weems OG $    480,000 - $    480,000
    David Arkin OG $    555,000 $    125,000 $    680,000
    Mackenzy Bernadeau OG $ 1,750,000 $    812,500 $ 2,562,500
    Nate Livings OG $ 1,700,000 $    700,000 $ 2,400,000
    Ray Dominguez OG $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Ron Leary OG $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Doug Free OT $ 7,000,000 $ 4,175,000 $11,175,000
    Jeremy Parnell OT $ 1,023,088 $    333,333 $ 1,356,421
    Tyron Smith OT $ 1,511,009 $ 1,897,018 $ 3,408,027
    Total: $25,231,948

    There is nothing that anyone can say that would make me believe that Free is worth the $11.175 million dollars he will count towards the salary cap in 2013. Only two other Cowboys players have a higher base salary than Free in 2013: Tony Romo and Brandon Carr.

    The Cowboys gambled on Free and based on last season’s results, they failed miserably. Since Free finished the final four games sharing time with Jermey Parnell, Free might become a salary cap casualty.

    Wouldn't blame the Cowboys if he did.

Defensive Line

7 of 12

    Even though the Cowboys had problems stopping the run late in the season, I’m not sure how Jay Ratliff stays in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. His $7 million cap hit is reduced to $1 million if Dallas were to cut him.

    Unfortunately for Ratliff, an injury cut his season short and he only played in six games. Jerry Jones will have you believe that his “altercation” with Ratliff late in the season will have no impact on his decision to keep Ratliff, but that may just be talk.

    DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Ikponmwosa Igbinosun DE $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Jason Hatcher DE $ 2,000,000 $    833,333 $ 2,833,333
    Marcus Spears DE $ 2,000,000 $    700,000 $ 2,700,000
    Monte Taylor DE $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Tyrone Crawford DE $    480,000 $    143,813 $    623,813
    Ben Bass DT $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Brian Price DT $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Jay Ratliff DT $ 5,000,000 $ 2,000,000 $ 7,000,000
    Josh Brent DT $    575,000 - $    575,000
    Rob Callaway DT $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Sean Lissemore DT $    630,000 $    412,150 $ 1,042,150
    Total: $17,099,296

    With the Cowboys trying to make space under the new salary-cap, Ratliff may find himself out in Dallas. Josh Brent still has some legal issues to sort out, but if he does not wind up in jail he may be an inexpensive solution to the release of Ratliff.

    Still, the Cowboys may need to spend some money on the defensive line, especially if new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin changes the defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense.

Linebackers

8 of 12

    You would expect DeMarcus Ware to be the highest paid linebacker on the team, and he is just that. However, the Cowboys may not want to keep Dan Connor’s $4.35 million cap-hit in the books.

    LINEBACKERS
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Alex Albright LB $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Brashton Satele LB $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Bruce Carter LB $    766,327 $    507,000 $ 1,273,327
    Cameron Sheffield LB $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Dan Connor LB $ 3,000,000 $ 1,350,000 $ 4,350,000
    DeMarcus Ware LB $ 5,500,000 $ 6,718,750 $12,218,750
    Kyle Wilber LB $    480,000 $    109,800 $    589,800
    Sean Lee LB $    575,000 $    300,000 $    875,000
    Total: $20,746,877

    When Connor was asked to step in last season after Sean Lee and Bruce Carter were lost with season-ending injuries, he did not live up to expectations.

    When not injured and on the field, Sean Lee is massively outperforming his price tag of less than $1 million.

Cornerbacks

9 of 12

    The Cowboys finally spent some money in the secondary last season by adding Brandon Carr via free agency. Then they moved up in the draft to add Morris Claiborne.

    So although Mike Jenkins will become a free agent, the Cowboys appear to be set at cornerback.

    CORNERBACKS
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Brandon Carr CB $14,300,000 $ 2,000,000 $16,300,000
    Brandon Underwood CB $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Matt Johnson CB $    480,000 $     75,146 $    555,146
    Morris Claiborne CB $ 1,129,296 $ 2,567,182 $ 3,696,478
    Orlando Scandrick CB $ 2,000,000 $ 1,780,000 $ 3,780,000
    Sterling Moore CB $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Vince Agnew CB $    480,000 - $    480,000
    Total: $25,921,624

    Since Carr will cost about $16 million against the salary cap, Dallas will have to decide what to do with Orlando Scandrick. Scandrick’s $3.78 million cap hit makes him a luxury the Cowboys may not be able to afford.

Safeties

10 of 12

    Barry Church’s injury early in the season changed the complexity of the Cowboys defense. They had to rely on Danny McCray the rest of the year and that attempt came with mixed results.

    SAFETIES
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Barry Church S $    823,000 $    500,000 $ 1,323,000
    Gerald Sensabaugh S $ 3,000,000 $    750,000 $ 3,750,000
    Micah Pellerin S $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Total: $ 5,478,000

    Now McCray will most likely be gone via free agency, so Dallas currently only has three safeties on the payroll. If Church can stay healthy next year, the Cowboys would be paying around $5 million for their two starting safeties.

    However the Cowboys would be wise to spend some money for bigger safety just in case either Church or Gerald Sensabaugh gets hurt next year.

Special Teams

11 of 12

    Kicker Dan Bailey was easily the star of the Cowboys special teams units. Bailey was perfect on field goal attempts of 50 yards or less and only missed two attempts all season.

    Bailey is certainly a steal at a base salary of $555,000.

    SPECIAL TEAMS
    Player Position 2013/14 Base 2013/14 Bonus 2013/14 Cap Hit
    Dan Bailey K $    555,000 $        833 $    555,833
    Charley Hughlett LS $    405,000 - $    405,000
    Chris Jones P $    555,000 - $    555,000
    Total: $ 5,478,000

    Punter Chris Jones missed all but four games last year with an injury. His replacement, Brian Moorman, has become a free agent, but there is no indication that Jones would have lost his job to Moorman this season. Jones also has a base salary of $555,000.

    The Cowboys will most likely bring in a kicker and a punter to make Bailey and Jones work to keep their jobs; however, Dallas will happily keep both players at their current price tags.

Rookies and Free Agents

12 of 12

    That rundown shows that the Cowboys have a total of 65 players with contracts for a total of  $145.354 million. That is about $24 million more than the estimated $121 salary cap.

    The Cowboys still have to make room for six more players that they will take in April during the NFL draft.

     

    Player Position
    Felix Jones RB
    Kevin Ogletree WR
    John Phillips TE
    Phil Costa C
    Derrick Dockery OG
    Kenyon Coleman DE
    L.P. Ladouceur DE
    Victor Butler DE
    Brian Schaefering DT
    Anthony Spencer LB
    Brady Poppinga LB
    Ernie Sims LB
    Orie Lemon LB
    Danny McCray CB
    Michael Coe CB
    Mike Jenkins CB
    Charlie Peprah S
    Eric Frampton S
    Brian Moorman P

    The table above is a list of all the Cowboys players that will become free agents. Of that list, the Cowboys will only try to keep Anthony Spencer, and with their current salary-cap problems, the Cowboys may find that they cannot afford to keep Spencer, even if they place the franchise tag on him again this year.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices