Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs after making a catch against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. Packers beat the Cowboys 37-36. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Did Dallas Cowboys Handcuff Themselves On Dez Bryant?

Dez Bryant is now unquestionably the biggest free agent fish for the Dallas Cowboys to reel in.  The problem they may not have enough bait left.

Tyron Smith and Tony Romo deals chew deep into salary cap

One can understand the Cowboys wanting to hang on to their own players.  It’s a proven way of building winning teams.  The problem is delving into the realm of overpaying.  Doing so can often lead to not being able to retain desired players.  Such is the era of the salary cap.  Dallas may be venturing into that realm regarding wide receiver Dez Bryant.  With his own contract due for renewal soon, it would’ve made sense for the team to begin preparing their cap for the inevitable hit.  Instead they are faced with a very real financial bind.  According Over The Cap, the Dallas Cowboys as a team will be $2 million over the current cap line.  A big part of that comes from just two players, quarterback Tony Romo and left tackle Tyron Smith.

Smith just signed an eight-year extension with the team at $110 million with $40 million guaranteed.  His cap number is projected at around $13 million.  Romo meanwhile will carry one of $27.7 million, courtesy of the six-year deal he signed in 2013.  Keep in mind this all rests on the idea that the cap move up from $134 million to $140 million, which is no guarantee.  In other words they are looking at serious financial repercussions in 2015.

Brandon Carr and Doug Free may be among sacrifices to keep Bryant

So how does it all come back to Dez Bryant?  Simple.  His contract expires this season.  If nothing is done, and it seems nothing will be, then he becomes a free agent next March.  That would potentially be a devastating blow to the Cowboys offense.  If Bryant is able to replicate the previous two seasons he’s had, there is no question he will have the leverage to demand top wide receiver money, which will hover between $12 million and $16 million.  Dallas is in no position to fork over that kind of cash.

Worse yet, in order to get there they would likely have to do some serious roster restructuring which includes major cuts of prominent players.  Two names that come to mind are cornerback Brandon Carr and right tackle Doug Free.  After Romo and Smith they have the two largest cap hits on the team in 2015.  Cutting them would be easy given their limited bang-for-buck impact but replacing them would be a sight harder even if the freed up money was enough to keep Bryant, which is no guarantee.

Either way, the Dallas Cowboys are stuck in cap purgatory with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Tags: Brandon Carr Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant Doug Free Tony Romo Tyron Smith

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