Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith and Dwayne Harris contracts should be extended by the Dallas Cowboys
By Matthew Postins
Earlier this week we profiled the overall salary cap situation for the Dallas Cowboys today we start maneuvering to get the Cowboys under the cap.
First, we’ll look at five players that the Cowboys should consider signing to contract extensions. Now that may sound counter-intuitive, given the Cowboys are up to $25 million under the cap. But NFL teams can save money by extending deals.
Look at Dan Bailey, who was going to be one of our five players on this list until the Cowboys signed Bailey to a $22.5 million, 7-year extension through 2020. ESPNDallas.com’s Todd Archer pointed out that Bailey’s $2014 cap hit, thanks to the extension, would be about $1.7 million. The reason that’s important is because the Cowboys would have had to tender Bailey a one-year contract worth $2.124 million as a restricted free agent just to give the Cowboys the right to match any offer. So by extending Bailey the Cowboys will actually save about half a million dollars in 2014.
So which other players may the Cowboys extend before the season begins? Here’s our thoughtful list based on quality of play, current cap situation and when they hit free agency.
LT Tyron Smith (counts $3.976 against the 2014 salary cap; becomes a free agent in 2015). The Cowboys cannot afford to let this guy get away, especially as he’s coming off selections to the Pro Bowl game and the All-Pro team. Of course, left tackles don’t come cheap. The average yearly salary for the highest-paid left tackle in the game, Philadelphia’s Jason Peters, is $12 million, according to overthecap.com. One of the game’s best left tackles, Ryan Clady of Denver, recently signed a new contract. That deal will pay him more than $50 million through 2019. His cap hit in 2014 is $8.6 million, and it is at least $10 million for every other year of the deal. Smith may not get quite that much money, but the fact is he’ll take up more cap space in 2015, no matter what team he plays for. The Cowboys should do nothing with his 2014 salary but go ahead and extend him another five years to get a grip on his cap hit and see if they can keep it under $8 million a year. That would put him in the neighborhood of players like Washington’s Trent Williams and Tennessee’s Michael Roos.
WR Dez Bryant (counts $3.148 million against the 2014 salary cap; becomes a free agent in 2015). The Cowboys can’t afford to lose Bryant at this point. Bryant probably doesn’t want to go anywhere, but he’s going to get paid. He’s in the same vein as Smith. He’s a player the Cowboys need and need to lock up now before he can hit the open market and drive up the price. You leave his 2014 cap number alone and start working on a deal that makes Bryant among the top paid wide receivers in the game. The chances are very good that Bryant will get a deal that pays him an average of $10 million per year and comes with back-loaded cap hits to manage space. Right now 10 different receivers count at least $10 million, ranging from the Redskins’ Josh Morgan ($10.1 million) to Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald ($18 million).
PR/KR Dwayne Harris (counts $682,000 against the 2014 salary cap; becomes a free agent in 2015). Harris has emerged as one of the best returners in the game. Again, this boils down to keeping a player that gives you peace of mind at a secondary, but important, position. Harris is much better than any of the other