The Dallas Cowboys had to restructure eight separate contracts before the start of free agency merely to get under the salary cap in time. Of course, it didn't help that the Cowboys were dealing with a $5 million cap sanction from the league and that Anthony Spencer's franchise tender is worth $10.6 million.
There's still a chance the 'Boys can free up some cap space by signing Tony Romo to a contract extension. Romo's current cap hit is $16.8 million, which is the highest on the team. A proper deal with Spencer and a long-term deal with Romo would save quite a lot of money.
In the meantime, the Cowboys are completely strapped for cash, which means we probably can't expect them to be big players on the free-agent market. Dallas will probably look for players to come in and compete for open jobs at safety (Gerald Sensabaugh is gone), linebacker (Dan Connor is gone) and right tackle (Doug Free is terrible), but don't expect big splashes this March.
We'll continue to break down Dallas' cap status in this spot as moves are made, so keep checking back, and be sure to bookmark our Cowboys free agency tracker, too.
Updated cap space (via ESPNDallas.com on March 18): Less than $100,000
Anthony Spencer: $10.6 million franchise tender
Contract value grade: D-
I guess this is more a salary value grade than a contract value grade, but the point is that it's a silly amount of money for a cap-strapped team to be giving to its second-best pass rusher. I like Spencer, a lot, but I think he's worth $6 or $7 million a year.
The good news is that he had his best season under the tag in 2012, so if the Cowboys decide to force him to play under those circumstances again in 2013, he could be in for another big year.
* Not a lot to report yet but we'll have analysis as moves are made.
** It should be noted that the 'Boys can also save $7 million by cutting Free after June 1. That money can be used to sign draft picks and other role players.