Dallas Cowboys Move from Dead Money Disaster to Salary Cap Hell

At the end of this tunnel in hell is Doug Free's contract.

At the end of this tunnel in hell is Doug Free’s contract.

In November, National Football Post had an article describing dead money disasters. And wouldn’t you know it, our underachieving Dallas Cowboys were among those disasters. The bit about the Cowboys:

The Cowboys are paying for contract mistakes made several years ago. Most notably are the contracts that were signed by Roy Williams and Marion Barber.

At least Marion Barber (above) produced while he was with the Cowboys. That’s more than you can say about Roy Williams.

Williams signed a six-year, $54 million contract extension (with $19.5 million guaranteed) in 2008 after being acquired from the Detroit Lions for 2009 first, third and sixth round picks. Williams never came close to duplicating his 2006 Pro Bowl season with Detroit (82 catches, 1,310 receiving yards) while with the Cowboys. In fact, Williams only had 12 more receptions and 10 more receiving yards than his 2006 season during his almost three seasons in Dallas.

Barber received a seven-year, $45 million contract (with $16 million guaranteed) in 2008 as a restricted free agent without having a 1,000-yard rushing season or being an every-down running back. Even though Williams and Barber haven’t played for the Cowboys since the 2010 season, they are currently counting $8.75 million and $4 million, respectively, towards Dallas’ cap. The same holds true for Leonard Davis ($4,166,670) and Marc Colombo ($4.05 million), who was also part of the 2011 roster purge once the lockout ended.

The Cowboys were still able to be a major player in the first wave of free agency despite 22.6% of their adjusted cap being devoted to dead money and their penalty for violating the spirit of unwritten spending rules during the uncapped 2010 season. Brandon Carr received a five-year, $50.1 million deal (including $26.5 million in guarantees). His $3.2 million first year cap number is low for such a lucrative deal. Carr’s cap number jumps to $16.3 million next year which makes him a prime candidate to restructure his contract since the Cowboys will have a $6.5 million cap deficit because of those penalties and approximately $134 million committed towards next year’s cap with only 43 players under contract.

In 2013, the situation is different but by no means better. The Cowboys reportedly only have $194,440 in dead money, yet the team is still $20 million over the salary cap. The Cowboys have a total commitment of $143,073,082 in 2013, and only the Jets and the Saints face a worse salary cap situation.

The cause? $103,257,533 in base salaries. Only the Eagles franchise has a higher figure of base salaries. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Cowboys or Eagles made the playoffs last year. Or the year before. Or (in the case of the Cowboys) the year before that.

You know who makes the playoffs every year? The Patriots, who have the sixth lowest salary number in the league with a total commitment of $106,497,111. That’s $36.5 million less than the 8-8 Cowboys.

And who won the Super Bowl last year? The Ravens, with a total commitment of $107,482,179.

This is even more disheartening: the two teams with the lowest salary cap numbers are the Bengals (total commitment of $75,584,664) and Colts (total commitment of $77,510,714). I seem to remember them competing in the playoffs last year.

The Cowboys, of course, weren’t.

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Article by Matt Cordon

Blogging impatiently about the Cowboys since 2006. Being a fan since 1977 hasn't required quite as much patience.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/priceperhead1 Jake Richards

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