Cowboys Romo: The Truths About Restructuring
It was the oddest thing: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones held court at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, and among the media horde were representatives of both of DFW's daily papers, the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
What did Mr. Jones tell the Morning News in regard to a cap-changing spring-of-2015 restructuring of Tony Romo's contract?
“We all realize that anything you push forward that if you don’t use it it’ll cost you cap space that you could use for other players. On an older player, the further you put it out in the future the less likely you are to use it. That’s the point. That is the trick. On the other hand, the effort is to right now put together the best value we can using those dollars, and that’s the art of the deal.''
And what did Mr. Jones tell the Star-Telegram in regard to the exact same issue?
We all realize that anything you push forward that if you don’t use it it’ll cost you cap space that you could use for other players. On an older player, the farther you put it out in the future the less likely you are to use it. That’s the point. That is the trick. On the other hand, the effort is to right now put together the best value we can using those dollars and that’s the art of the deal.''
So far, so good.
Now, what conclusions did the Morning News draw from this group conversation?
Restructuring Romo's deal is risky business; the Cowboys may decide against it.
And, what conclusions did the Star-Telegram draw from this group conversation?
In an effort to create more salary cap space, the Cowboys are expected to restructure Tony Romo’s contract at some point this offseason.
Hmm. Now we've got ourselves a problem.
Much will be made of the fact that as it stands today, Romo is set to count $27.773 million against the 2015 cap -- the highest figure in all of the NFL. Expect to see that $27.773 million used to fill headlines followed by the usual ignorant flood of "Cowboys Cap Hell'' stories.
But those in the know are aware of the fact that Dallas isn't in cap trouble with Romo at $27.773 million ... and that there is a built-in trigger that can lessen that load ... and that it all adds up to the exact opposite of "cap hell'' because there are so many options involved.
So which option will it be?
First, let's address the club's obvious move away from overspending in free agency, and from "credit-carding'' its way to assembling a roster. It was marked most notably by Dallas' very difficult decision to let go of DeMarcus Ware last year. It is being marked again now by what we know of the Cowboys' thinking on retaining free agent DeMarco Murray, a valued player who Dallas is reluctant to retain at "market value.''
“Obviously you don’t like to mortgage your future if you can help it,” COO Stephen Jones said. “We started making the move toward being a younger team and going a different direction in terms of pushing money out, so we’d prefer not to do that.''
But what if you want to hit a home run? What if you want to go "all-in''? What if you view the next two years as the likely end of the "Romo window'' and that motivates Jerry -- who wants desperately for this QB (soon to be 35) to win a Super Bowl and to justify his own faith in this QB -- to "mortgage the future''? Note that Stephen refers to this present time as "a unique window'' for the above reasons.
While the Cowboys could this spring carve out an amazing $49 million of room, as first noted by CowboysHQ.com, they don't NEED to flip a restructure switch on Romo's contract to get themselves flexibility. In fact, according to our calculations (verified by team sources) Dallas can create more than $30 million without touching Romo's deal and still do their Dez Bryant deal, re-up most of their own, pay the draft picks, and yes, be players in free agency.
Maybe that's why the Morning News is right about a "no'' on a Romo move.
Dallas can follow one of its original plans and transform Romo's $17 mil base into $1 mil base, turning the remaining $16 million into signing bonus ... thus creating $12.8 million more in space, to add to the aforementioned $30-mil plus.
The penalty for doing so: Romo’s cap numbers in 2016-19 would jump to (approximately) $21 million, $25 million, $25 million and $23 million. ... and remember, despite Jerry's "four or five more years'' prediction for the QB's career, these are dollars being paid to a guy who in 2019 will be 39 years old. Nevertheless, all of this was part of the original plan in structuring this contract, and here Dallas is feeling close to title contention, and here Jerry is feeling his mortality ...
So maybe that's why the Star-Telegram is right about a "yes'' on the Romo move.
Time to straighten all this out.
One Cowboys sources tells us, "We won't necessarily do either of those. The whole idea is to have options. That's where we're at right now: Exploring options.''
So, the two newspapers seemingly found themselves in a race to translate Jerry's words ... and both of them, in a sense related to the timing of it all, translated wrong.
The source reminds us, "Romo's contract doesn't just have 'one' (trigger.)'' Meaning? Dallas doesn't have to do either/or here regarding the creation of $12.8 million of room. The Cowboys could transform a variety of fractions of that amount, depending on what they need ... and at this very early stage they don't know how much they need because they don't know the cost of the products on the shelf, or even the identities of some of those products. (We offer some in-depth thoughts on this aspect of Romo's situation here in our "Cowboys Offseason Manifesto Part 2.'')
There is no decision here. Not yet. Because no decision is needed yet. We gain some insight from listening to the two bosses put their stamp on this stuff, though. Jerry used the phrase, 'The art of the deal.'' Meanwhile, Stephen said, "I don’t think there’s an exact science, (as if it's) ‘Hey, we’re going to do it or not do it.’”
It is art. It is science. It is math. But most of all, at this early stage despite what you've read, it's not "Hey, we're going to do it'' and it's not "Hey, 'we're not going to do it.''
The media is in a hurry here. The Cowboys have no need to be.
Here, the Cowboys "win'' the Pro Bowl and Romo wins some pizza ... Get educated: What's about to happen has nothing to do with "Dez vs. DeMarco'' ... Getting ready for the draft? Please read "The Cowboys' Six Tells and Tendencies in the Draft'' ... Be sure to stay tuned to 105.3 The Fan for all your radio insights and keep it right here at CowboysHQ for hard-hitting commentary and outstanding analysis.
"He certainly is (the MVP) in my book. He is for me." - Jerry on Romo. "
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