1. CowboysHQ.com is your best source for all things Cowboys this offseason. Led by our man inside the Star, Mike Fisher, we’ll keep you ahead of the curve on where this offseason could lead and what players could be staying or going.
As part of that, over the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on some of the players and storylines that could have an impact on next season. Some of those stories will come outside the 1st and 10 umbrella. Some will appear here. Today I look at the five players whose contracts the Cowboys may do something with to create cap space in 2017:
OT Tyron Smith: Smith already counts $15.8 million against the salary cap in 2017, but with a base salary of $10 million the Cowboys can convert about $9 million of that into bonus money and, like last year, create extra room. Last year the Cowboys created $7.2 million in space.
QB Tony Romo: One way or another the Cowboys are going to do something with Romo’s contract, which counts $24.7 million against the salary cap in 2017. Our Mike Fisher has, on many occasions, broken down how exactly the Cowboys can wrest themselves from Romo’s deal, minimize the cap issues and create some space this year, approximately $5 million.
C Travis Frederick: Frederick moves into the first year of his contract extension and his base salary for 2017 is more ($14.2 million) than Romo. I could see the Cowboys clearing a lot of space by converting that base salary into bonus money.
WR Dez Bryant: He counts $17 million in cap space this year, but $13 million of that is base salary and it’s the largest base salary hit in any season of Bryant’s five-year deal. Something tells me the Cowboys might try to convert at least some of that base salary to bonus money, thus creating cap space.
LB Sean Lee: Lee has been happy to restructure his deal before, and with $9 million in base salary in 2017 the opportunity might present itself again.
One thing to note. Romo, Bryant and Lee have the fewest remaining years on their deal of the five players above, just three years each. While Romo seems headed out the door, the duration of the other deals could play a role in whether the Cowboys decide to kick the can down the road with Bryant’s and Lee’s contracts.
2. A report has the Minnesota Vikings wondering if they’ll have Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback in 2017. Remember that Bridgewater not only tore his ACL, but also dislocated his knee when he hurt himself last August. At that time doctors told the Vikings Bridgewater would need approximately 19 months to rehab the injuries. If that timetable is correct, as Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole points out, Bridgewater would miss the 2017 season, too.
How does that impact the Cowboys? Well, I pointed out in First and 10 in November that the Vikings might be a suitor for Romo’s services, depending upon Bridgewater’s progress. If Bridgewater can’t play, the Vikings could be in the running. They’re an attractive option because they have a great defense, a solid group of skill players led by running back Adrian Peterson and their new stadium means Romo will generally be out of the elements for most of the season.
Even though the Vikings have a lot of money left on Sam Bradford’s contract, the difference between Bradford and Romo, talent-wise, is like a chasm. He could elevate that Vikings offense in ways that Bradford simply can’t. With $24 million in cap space available, the Vikings have the room to make a play for Romo, either by trade or free agency. Keep an eye on it, though of course the Cowboys must make their decision first.
3. Are the Denver Broncos interested in Tony Romo? The photo above made the rounds last weekend and folks lost their collective minds that John Elway plus Tony Romo equals Romo headed for Denver. Well, Mike Klis of 9News in Denver says that may not be the case:
By the way, Klis covered the Broncos for the Denver Post for 13 years before migrating to television, so he’s as plugged in as they come in Denver.
But does this report mean anything? Sure, the Broncos may be happy with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, but right now Romo is better than either of those players and, like the Vikings, the Broncos are built to win in the immediate future.
To me the Broncos and Vikings are the two most likely suitors for Romo in 2017 once he hits the open market. The next few weeks will be all about mixed messages.
4. Jerry Jones would like you to make like Fonzie and cool it on the Tony Romo talk.
Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. It’s the best offseason parlor game of the year.
5. While most coaching staffs were in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, the Cowboys’ coaching staff got roped into coaching in the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years. Why? Well, the highest-seeded losing team from the divisional round must coach in the Pro Bowl. Fortunately, all of the Cowboys’ scouts and personnel people were in Mobile this week.
Is anyone else worried about the Cowboys’ coaching staff working the Pro Bowl again? I mean, after all, the last time the Cowboys coached the Pro Bowl they followed it up with a 4-12 season in 2015. I’m just saying.
6. Here’s another reason to like Dak Prescott. He reportedly spent all of Pro Bowl week shadowing Drew Brees. And there are few players better to learn from by osmosis than Brees.
7. CHQ was first to report that both Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence had their surgeries this week. The Cowboys need speedy recoveries for both. They’re too important to the Cowboys’ plans for 2017.
8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:
This, as you might imagine, ended with someone getting burned.
9. This week’s great moments in headline porn: “Seattle Seahawks DT Cliff Avril doesn’t want credit for Dallas Cowboys’ success” from oregonlive.com
I don’t blame him. And any Cowboys fan willing to give Avril credit for injuring Tony Romo and accelerating the emergence of Dak Prescott is kind of sick.
10. And one more thing...
Matt Galatzan and I started a new feature this week called Debate Team. Each week we’ll tackle an issue related to the Cowboys. This week we tackled a prediction piece on when we think the Cowboys will finally get to the Super Bowl. You can find the piece right here.