With NFL free agency starting March 11, the Dallas Cowboys are crunching numbers and working furiously to shed cash and get under the $133 million salary cap.
Quarterback Tony Romo is even getting in on the effort.
According to sources close to the situation in Dallas, via ESPN's Todd Archer, the Cowboys will "rework" Romo's current contract to bring the team less than $1 million over the cap:
According to a source, the Cowboys will rework Romo's contract to create $10 million in salary cap space. The Cowboys will convert $12.5 million of Romo's $13.5 million base salary into a signing bonus, dropping his salary-cap figure from $21.773 million to $11.773 million.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently took the blame for Dallas' recent string of failures and inability to cash in on its high-paid talent, per 105.3 The Fan, via CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson:
We should have been knocking on the door and we haven't and I have no excuses, it starts here. But we have not. I know that to the extent that we have a healthy (Tony) Romo, our best chance to get back to the Super Bowl is a healthy Romo.
Archer adds that Dallas will soon be finished restructuring contracts for linebacker Sean Lee and cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Those moves are likely to free up roughly $6.8 million.
Together, the three contract adjustments shave $16.8 million off the Cowboys' salary cap. As a result, Dallas is expected to be within sight of 2014's cap.
With Dallas heading into another offseason clouded with uncertainty, Tuesday's report has to be encouraging for both players and fans.
There are still plenty of roster decisions to be made moving forward, but if the Cowboys are able to finalize the three aforementioned restructured deals, they'll be on their way to getting below the cap and avoiding a potential setback heading into the summer.
It's also worth noting that Dallas declined to utilize the franchise tag prior to Monday's deadline, per DallasCowboys.com's Nick Eatman:
The franchise tag deadline passed on Monday with the Cowboys, to no one’s surprise, choosing not to tag any of their players. Anthony Spencer had been tagged in each of the last two years, but after undergoing microfracture surgery, he’s just hoping to get back healthy enough to play football this season, whether it’s with the Cowboys or another team that signs the unrestricted free agent-to-be.
What to do with Spencer is one of many decisions the Cowboys have to make here in the next few weeks. In fact, Spencer might be the last guy the Cowboys decide about, considering he will be a free agent on March 11 but far from healthy. If teams, including the Cowboys, choose to pay big bucks to Spencer, it’ll be with a hope that he can return to form.
Eatman also highlights Miles Austin, DeMarcus Ware, Justin Durant and Phil Costa as potential cuts for the Cowboys.
In addition to May's draft, the Cowboys will need to capitalize on their opportunities during the free-agency period in order to enter 2014 as legitimate contenders.
These reported restructured deals would allow them to become bigger players in that regard and ultimately take the steps necessary to fielding a better product next fall.