Dallas Cowboys: They Have the Money, Do They Spend It

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 05: Byron Jones #31 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after an unsuccessful field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski #11 of the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the second quarter during the Wild Card Round at AT&T Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 05: Byron Jones #31 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after an unsuccessful field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski #11 of the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the second quarter during the Wild Card Round at AT&T Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys certainly have the cap space to re-sign any of their upcoming contracts. However, it may not be smart to actually re-sign all of them.

A few days ago our own Reid Hanson discussed how the Dallas Cowboys could, in fact, re-sign all of their players. He talked about how the salary cap was pliable and could be manipulated in certain ways to allow teams to keep players, or sign players. The catch came if a player got injured or if their production dropped below the value of the contract.

While all of this is dead on, the question is with the upcoming contracts, do the Cowboys sign all of them, or do they let some walk. The answer isn’t exactly crystal clear, but there are some signs that could help understand how the team might think. The first step is to look at who are the upcoming contracts.

The Upcoming

When I speak of upcoming contracts, I am talking in the next two years. In 2020, the Cowboys have 35 free agents. For a complete list go to Sportrac here. The big names are Amari Cooper, La’el Collins, Byron Jones, Anthony Brown, Dak Prescott, Maliek Collins, Kavon Frazier, Joe Looney, and Jaylon Smith. I left of Jason Witten and Sean Lee due to age. I also left off Allen Hurns due to injury. I also left off one year contract guys.

Let’s look at 2021 for a second, the Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Noah Brown, Cameron Flemming, and Randy Gregory as just the headliners. Again, the list is fairly large and I left off some due to age. Sure, the Cowboys could sign all of these guys, but should they is the real question.

I think we can assume some of the names right away, but what the Cowboys will have to determine is whether the contract will fit the production. It may seem easy on the surface, but there are some factors that could come into play.

The Factors

One of the things fans seem to forget is players age. Usually, fans will look at the name of a free agent and remember what they once were, rather than what the are or what they can give over the next few years. For instance, a lot of fans may want to keep Tyrone Crawford in 2021 because he has been fairly reliable for the Cowboys. However, he will be 31 by the time his contract is up. Two years is a long time in the NFL, the toll the body takes year in and year out slows players down quicker than many realize.

The other factor many fans seem to forget is the market dictates price for the most part. Players aren’t usually going to give the famous “hometown discount” like fans think they would do in the player’s position. Regardless of what you feel about Dak Prescott getting a contract, the market has dictated he is worth about $30 million a year. You can thank Carson Wentz for that. He isn’t going to take much less than this. You can hate it, but it is what the market dictates he will get. Sure, guaranteed money, length, bonuses, all could give the appearance of a little less, but it will be around $30 million per year.

Injury is always a concern when it comes to players. Some players can bounce back from some injuries and play at a high level. However, more often than not the injury changes the player a little. They might be a touch slower, less agile, less strength. It might be small, but it makes a difference at the professional level. Also, as someone who suffered some serious injuries in the military I can tell you once you injure something, you have a higher likelihood of re-injuring that same body part. It is physiology.

Production and fit are two I will combine as sometimes changes in scheme will affect production. All players have strengths and weaknesses. A change could play either to or against a player’s strength. If production drops or the player no longer fits, than they could be let go. A case in point in this is a 4-3 outside linebacker who might not fit as a 3-4 defensive end. Another would be an offensive lineman who thrives in zone blocking, but struggles in man blocking.

Draft picks are always a possible reason for players not being re-signed. A young player who steps in and creates viable production can cause a player who might need more money to be let go in favor of the cheaper option. Dak Prescott and Tony Romo are fairly recent examples of this. It happens, production versus value is always a consideration.

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The Possibilities

Right now it appears the Dallas Cowboys will probably keep quite a few of the players that have upcoming contracts. Some names of possible non-re-signings have been Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Ezekiell Elliott, and Allen Hurns. There have been more, but those seem to be the names that have popped up more than a few times.

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Some of the decisions will come from the factors above, some may come from wanting to move money around differently. There will be plenty of conjecture as to who and who will not be re-signed, but the options for some names to not be re-signed are there. How the team values a position, how he fits with their plans, scheme, or in the locker room can all come into consideration.

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I would think there will be some who will be happy and upset with the decisions to be made in the coming year or two. The Cowboys can certainly keep everyone, but it is highly doubtful they will. There will be players to leave and players to come. However, hopefully you now understand why the decisions will be made and whether they spend the money or not.

  • Published on 06/12/2019 at 11:00 AM
  • Last updated at 06/12/2019 at 10:28 AM