Cowboys Cap Count: Post-Dez Deal

The signing of Dez Bryant, along with the suspension situations of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain have a direct impact on the Cowboys cap and roster options for 2015. Here's how.

Now that the Cowboys and Dez Bryant have solved their always-reconcilable differences and agreed to a long-term deal, it’s a great time to look at the dominoes that fall. The deal has been reported as “5 years, $70 million with $45 million guaranteed”. Of that, $20m is signing bonus; that and the $14 million per year average are exactly what CowboysHQ predicted all the way back last July. The market for wideouts had a glaring hole to be populated between the Calvin Johnson bloated average and the deals that lesser receivers such as Dwayne Bowe, Percy Harvin and Vincent Jackson had reaped in the last few years.

We've got the Cowboys fully guaranteeing the first two years of the deal ($32m) with Bryant have a virtual guarantee of $45 million in his five-year, $70 million contract (with the final $13m paid when he's on the Marcxh 2016 roster.) All of this is the security Dez Bryant was looking for, and right in range of our prediction of between $30 and $40 million; showing their belief in Dez’s transition to an independent man capable of maintaining the clean bill he’s worked hard to achieve over the last several seasons.

With the signing of the deal, we now have a clear picture of the Cowboys 2015 salary-cap situation. There can still be changes, notably a pay reduction for Brandon Carr or an extension aligned with the cap space saved by the Bryant deal, but for now this is where things stand.

Dez’s Impact on Cap

Base Salary$3,000,000
S. Bonus Proration$4,000,000
2015 Cap Hit$7,000,000

Under the franchise tag, Dez Bryant was going to take up $12.823 million of cap space. Since the tag was placed on him, that amount has been in a “cap hold” and counted towards Dallas’ cap. Dez will play for a base salary that is $3 million, and that will be augmented by the proration of the $20 million signing bonus over each of the deal’s five years. $4 million per year, plus his base means that Dez will count $7 million; a savings of over $5.8 million in cap space.

As a reminder, the Cowboys could easily add voidable years to Dez’s deal in the future, and restructure base salaries in either of the next two years to create additional cap space in 2016 or 2017 (or both).

Hardy’s Impact on Cap

Base Salary$750,000
S Bonus Proration$0
Workout Bonus$1,311,600
Exp. Roster Bonuses$5,781,250
2015 Cap Expectation$8,822,700

Last week, when Greg Hardy’s suspension was reduced to just four 2015 games, the reduction affected the salary cap as well. Hardy originally had a cap hit of just over $3.2 million; based on his $750k salary, his $1.3m+ workout bonus, and two games of his $578k per-game roster bonuses. Since he is suspended for four games, Hardy’s base salary is reduced by 4/17th, or $176,400.

If Hardy is active on the Cowboys roster for the remaining 12 games (as expected), than his 2015 cap hit will increase another $5,781,250 (10 games not already included in cap hit x $578,125).

Hardy’s sack total can earn him an additional $1.8 million, but that will be taken out of whatever cap space is left at the end of 2015, or rolled onto the 2016 cap. It does not factor into the space entering the season.

McClain’s Impact on Cap

Rolando McClain’s four-game suspension means that the Cowboys will not have to pay him his base salary for those four weeks. That amounts to $176,500 in savings. He also is scheduled to make $93,750 each game he plays, so again, four games worth of that is by the wayside. Because he played 14 games last year, only the first 14 games counts on the cap to start the year, so that is actually just reduced by two games ($187,500). In total, Rolando McClain’s cap hit has decreased $364,000. Overview

The Cowboys sat with $11.3 million in cap space prior to the last few weeks. Now, with Hardy projecting to take away $5.6 million, Dez’s deal adding $5.8 million and McClain’s suspension another $364k, the Cowboys will have approximately $11.9 million of cap space to either extend current players, trade for other team’s players, sign free agents in camp or during the season or roll over into 2016.

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