The Dallas Cowboys' focus has been on adjusting their coaching staff to start the offseason. With some new people in place, it’s time to direct their attention to the current roster.
One issue the Cowboys have is getting the team under the 2014 salary cap. According to the projected cap number of $126.3 million, Dallas is $23.2 million over the limit.
In order to get under the cap, Dallas must give certain players pay cuts or restructured contracts. The first place owner Jerry Jones must look is at some of the "bad" contracts on his roster. Let’s take a look at Dallas’ worst player contracts and how they might be rearranged.
All statistics via Pro-Football-Reference.com unless indicated otherwise.
DeMarcus Ware is likely to be a Hall of Famer in the near future. However, he currently has one of the worst contracts on the Dallas Cowboys.
The problem with Ware’s contract is based around the defensive end’s production. Ware’s deal only has two years remaining, but he’s due $26 million over that time.
At the rate he’s playing, $26 million for the next two seasons is much more than Ware deserves. The 31-year-old had his worst year as a pro in 2013 and has shown to be suspect to injuries the past few seasons.
Getting below the salary cap is one of Dallas’ top priorities. It’s certain it will turn to Ware to move money around in order to create room for this year.
Another veteran who has an unfavorable contract is wide receiver Miles Austin. He’s signed through the 2016 season and is slated to make just less than $8 million per year in average salary.
Like Ware, Austin’s contract is considered bad because of his lack of production. He’s been struggling through hamstring issues the last several years and was basically a non-factor in 2013.
Austin had only 244 receiving yards on 24 grabs.
If the receiver is going to stay on the roster, he’s going to need to take a significant pay cut. Otherwise we may have seen the last of Austin in a Cowboys uniform.
Cornerback Brandon Carr also has one of the worst contracts on the team. Although he’s the team's best corner, he’s simply overpaid for what he does on a week-to-week basis.
Carr is signed through 2017 and currently earns just more than $10 million in average salary. According to Spotrac, Carr’s contract gives him the third-highest average salary for NFL cornerbacks. Only Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey are ahead of him.
Dallas won’t be getting rid of Carr anytime soon because decent corners are very hard to come by. However, Carr has the fourth-largest contract on the roster and could be another player the front office looks to restructure.
Despite taking a pay cut last offseason, tackle Doug Free’s contract is still quite awful. The 30-year-old has only one year remaining on his deal, but he is making too much money at $3.5 million.
Even though Free had a fantastic year compared to his 2012 campaign, he is earning more money than most on Dallas’ roster. In fact, he’s making more than Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith.
Dallas probably won’t do anything to his contract since he only has the one year left. But if Dallas does decide to bring him back after 2014, I’m betting it will be at a much friendlier rate.
The last player whose contract is detrimental to the team is Tony Romo. The quarterback makes the most money on the Cowboys by a significant amount. Romo is signed through 2019 and has an average salary of $18 million.
Now it makes sense that the quarterback has the highest salary, but he doesn’t need to be making a ridiculous amount. His average salary is nearly $7 million more than the next highest-paid player (Ware).
Another reason you might consider Romo overpaid is where he ranks among other NFL quarterbacks. His average salary puts him at sixth in the league, ahead of players like Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady.
What I dislike most about Romo’s deal is its length. Although he deserves the money he’s making at this moment, I don’t see that being true a few years from now.
Jones won’t be touching his quarterback’s contract anytime soon, but down the road Romo could be looking at a pay cut as well.