Tuesday, May 30 2023

Finally, some pieces are moving in the Cowboys‘ offseason strategy.

It’s nothing earth-shattering as of yet, but the front office did restructure the contracts of Dak Prescott and Zack Martin on Friday, freeing up roughly $30 million in cap space by converting their large salaries into bonuses. The team used a common accounting maneuver to lessen the cap hit of two of the Cowboys’ most expensive players without costing them any actual money.

Before we get too excited about what the team might do with the savings, a word of caution. This is fairly standard procedure, as the Cowboys have often done this to create room. Even with these restructures, the team is now just roughly $14 million under the cap, as Dallas was well over prior to pressing those buttons.

There’s more to monitor here, though. We’ve already speculated plenty about Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith‘s contract situations, and how the Cowboys could seek to recoup money from one or both players. There are also other veteran contracts they might restructure before the start of the league year, namely Michael Gallup‘s.


The burning question is: Will anything come of it?

If you’ve followed the Cowboys at all in recent years, you should know the answer is likely not. This organization has adhered strictly to a draft-and-develop strategy for much of the past decade, focused on re-signing its own star players and hunting for bargains in free agency. The smart bet is that whatever money the Cowboys are freeing up will go toward retaining starters like Leighton Vander Esch and Donovan Wilson. If not that, keep in mind that the Cowboys are likely earmarking money for extending Trevon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb

Still, it’s the dawn of a new league year, when optimism abounds. Regardless of what past experience tells us, it’s hard not to imagine the Cowboys finally splurging on an outside signing, or using the extra cap money to swing a trade for a star player. Reports coming out of the NFL Combine that they’re interested in adding another weapon to their offense don’t do much to dissuade those types of daydreams. 

Maybe this is the year they shake the strategy up, but proceed with caution. Freeing up cap space isn’t always the signal some try to bill it as.

Cowboys keep the faith in Prescott

Emmanuel Acho, LeSean McCoy, Joy Taylor and David Helman discuss Stephen Jones’ comments that the Cowboys still have faith that Dak Prescott will lead them to a Super Bowl win.

If anything, the most interesting thing to come out of Friday’s news is what it might mean for Prescott. Prior to the restructure, his 2023 cap hit was $49 million — third-highest in the league behind only those of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. The move has reduced Prescott’s number all the way down to $26.7 million, but that comes with the caveat that next year it will jump all the way to an absurd $59.5 million. 

One way or another, it’s a good bet that won’t happen. With two void years added to the end of his deal, Dallas will still have ways to play with his money. There’s also the possibility of an extension between now and then, as both the front office and Prescott himself have alluded to in recent weeks. With several big-name quarterbacks eligible for deals of their own, it will be interesting to see what level of urgency, if any, there is to get one done.

That likely won’t happen before the start of the new league year, which brings things back to the cap savings. The Cowboys will have some money to spend in 2023. Whether they switch things up remains to be seen.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports. He previously spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in producing “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.

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