Cowboys Re-Do Lee Contract For $5M In Cap Room; Romo Next Up?

As Predicted In This Space Three Weeks Ago, The Dallas Cowboys Have Done The Re-Do On Sean Lee's Contract For $5M In Cap Room. Is The $5M From A Tony Romo Move Next Up?

As we were predicting the Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick contractual moves three weeks ago, we noted that Dallas Cowboys critics should more than ever be able to see why we say "Cap Hell'' doesn’t exist.

The switches flipped with Tyron and Travis got Dallas about $3 million below the $167-mil cap. Predictable, as the Cowboys need to be cap-compliant by Thursday's start of the NFL business year.

But now comes another option for restructure, according to a report from our Mike Fisher, who says Cowboys COO Stephen Jones has informed him that Dallas has done a re-do on Sean Lee.

This $5-mil shoe to drop is a little different ... and the next shoe to drop will be different all over again.

Although Lee is 30 years old, he is under contract with the team through 2019. Beyond 2019, will he still be all All-Pro linebacker? Probably not; he may not be a football player at all in 2020 and 2021.

Nevertheless, we believed going in that Dallas would restructure his $9 million base salary to the minimum for a seven-year vet ($900,000), and add two “voidable” years to the end of the contract, which would lower his $12.5 million cap charge down to $7.1 million. 

Thus, the $5 million of immediate room, which gives Dallas $9 mil in total room ... for now.

But Todd Archer reports that these voidable years were not employed. So no dead money but rather money guaranteed, like the Tyron and Travis deals, in which money was moved within the expected shelf life of their careers? No "kicking the can'' or even Fish's terminology: "Kicking the thimble''? (Meaning much smaller than an actual can. ... a $3 mil penalty down the road for a $5 mil opening now?)

We'll take it.

Dallas can do something like with Dez Bryant's deal, too; sources indicate to that we're on the right track there in leaving Dez' deal alone. There are other moves available, as well.

But the biggie is coming:

What will happen with Tony Romo? 

Romo’s current cap number for 2017 is $24.7 million. While we don't yet know where he'll end up playing, the financial options are clear. If the Cowboys were to:

  • Outright Release - His cost is reduced from $24.7 million to $19.6 million, saving Dallas $5.1 million of cap space in 2017, and eliminating all future costs.
  • Trade -  Cap implications are the same as an outside release.
  • Release with June 1 Designation - 2017 costs reduced from $24.7 million to $10.7 million, saving the team $14 million in 2017, but leaving $8.9 million on the books in 2018.
  • Although Romo would be freed from his contract with Dallas and available to sign with other teams immediately, the Cowboys’ would not receive the benefit of this cap space until June 2 ... Meaning they couldn’t use the windfall of space to add any possible free agents in March. But that money could be used to help sign the 2017 draft class as well as creating the in-season spending money required to retain a practice squad, and make in-season signings to replace injured players, and the like.

When a Romo divorce does occur, the Cowboys will suddenly find themselves $13 million under the cap. No, that doesn't mean they are going to go nuts on tier-1 free-agent buys. It's simply about the operating costs, the retention of some of their own, oh, and maybe a minor "get'' or two. 

Add it all up, and allow yourself to be emotional about what's coming next in regard to football ... but don't get emotional about the cap. It's all too predictable, all too easy to calculate, for that.

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