The Cowboys are screwed

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The Cowboys are screwed

Postby Irn-Bru » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:08 am

Big time cap and personnel problems ahead. This is a great takedown.

Any time you are mad that we have Dan Snyder as an owner, just remember that it could be much, much worse.

http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/42239236

Dallas Cowboys: Go .500 Now, Pay Later

The 2006 season was a long time ago. Brett Favre was still the Packers quarterback. Eric Mangenius was the toast of the New York media. Feel old yet? Tony Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe as the Cowboys quarterback in 2006. Jason Witten was already a Pro Bowl tight end, DeMarcus Ware a Pro Bowl pass rusher. Jay Ratliff was a productive young starter. Miles Austin was merely a kick returner because Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens were the starting receivers, veterans who were supposed to help Bledsoe make the Cowboys a playoff powerhouse but instead maxed the team out at 9-7.

Six full seasons later, Jerry Jones is still trying to make a powerhouse out of big-name veterans who keep the team trapped around .500. The Romo-Ware-Witten-Ratliff-Austin nucleus, the solution more than half a decade ago, is now the problem. From 2007-09, this iteration of the Cowboys had three winning seasons, including a 13-3 performance in 2007. Since then, they have managed just two .500 seasons, with 2012 being a typical effort: a 3-5 start, a 5-1 stretch to provide some midseason hope that they have finally turned the corner after a presidential administration's worth of sputtering, two late-season losses as soon as things got real.

Jones is trying to pry the Romo Generation window open for one more year, maybe two, no matter the cost. In addition to the Witten, Ware, and Austin restructurings, the team must rework Romo's contract soon: His cap figure is $16.8 million this season, and the figures range around $15 million until 2016. Ratliff, with a $7 million cap figure, a deal that runs through 2017 with lots of phony-baloney money at the end, and a recent arrest on his record, is also likely to talk restructure. (The alternative for Ratliff, unlike other core Cowboys, may be to talk release. The team has been very public about its reluctance to see Romo in another uniform.)

The most telling restructuring move by the Cowboys was the Brandon Carr deal. Carr just signed with the team last year. Already they are adjusting his contract. It's like opening a credit card to transfer the balance of the credit card you opened last month. It is bad economics, and it's a symptom of how the Cowboys do business.

Let's take a closer look a few of the Cowboys restructurings. Ware had $5 million of this year's salary converted into a signing bonus. Signing bonuses are prorated over the term of a contract, which is one reason why NFL contracts often have Monopoly money seasons at the end: it is there to hide signing bonus money. Ware's salary is now officially $832,000, and he saved the Cowboys $4 million in cap space. But his 2014 cap number is now $16 million, and the eight-digit figures continue through 2017. The Cowboys will release Ware long before 2017, but his release will result in dreaded "dead money," the NFL equivalent of car payments for a vehicle that is already in the junkyard. Releasing Ware in 2014 would not save the Cowboys $16 million in cap space, but a little over $7 million, with the rest eaten up by the ghosts of prorated bonuses past. Even if the Cowboys wait until 2016 and retain Ware's (probably dwindling) services for $14-$17 million per season, he will still cost the team more than $2 million in cap space upon his release.

Ware is not alone. Witten agreed to have $5.5 million of his 2013 salary turned into a bonus. That saved the Cowboys millions in cap space this year, but Witten's cap number rises above $8 million in 2014 and 2015. If the Cowboys try to cut him before the end of the 2014 season, it will eat up $5 million in cap space. Both Witten and Ware turn 31 before the start of this season, so the Cowboys will be faced with the decision to pay more than $24 million to employ two 33-year olds in two seasons, or to spend $12 million in cap space to not employ them.

And then there is Carr. His cap number this year is now a manageable $5.4 million, but it goes up to $12 million in 2014 and stays there until 2017. Thanks to a prorated bonus (just about every dime the Cowboys have paid Carr is a prorated bonus), Carr would still cost the Cowboys $12 million in dead money if they release him before 2015. Carr is a borderline Pro Bowl performer, but he is not a $12 million per year player whose services project well beyond the next season or two.

Here is how crazy the Cowboys situation is: They already have $143 million of cap space committed for 2014, and another $128 million committed for 2015. By contrast, the Falcons have $70 million committed in 2014 and $32 million in 2015. They squeaked under the cap this season by forcing themselves to perform the same limbo routine for the next two seasons. A Romo extension can only provide short-term relief at the expense of even longer-term relief, unless Romo agrees to a pay cut, which he won't.

The worst thing about the Cowboys cap situation is that it has yielded diminishing returns. Just as your purchasing power declines when you spend a large percentage of your paycheck on credit card premiums, the Cowboys are getting an ever-dwindling bang for their buck. And of course, their cap-bending shenanigans have resulted in NFL penalties, so they must be careful about creative accounting.

Yet the Cowboys seem incapable of stopping the cycle. This would have been the offseason to make a painful decision on Ware, as the Cowboys are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. With the draft loaded at wide receiver, it would have been a wise time to recognize that Austin peaked in 2009-10 instead of making him a dead-money hangover for 2014 and 2015. They could still part ways with Ratliff, though indications are that they will not. How different would the Cowboys releasing Ware and Austin be from the Falcons releasing Abraham and Turner? The Cowboys could argue that they are in great win-now position because the NFC East is depleted. As it stands, they look poised to max out at about 9-7, even in a weak division, and lose in the playoffs to a team like the Falcons.

The Cowboys were overpaying for a bunch of veterans in 2006, when Romo and this generation asserted itself. Unfortunately, they learned the wrong lesson from the rise of the Romo generation.
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Postby SkinsJock » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:47 am

^^ thanks FFA - great read and very informative :lol:


we are very, very fortunate to have Bruce & Mike in charge here - interfering owners like Jones and Snyder are obviously not capable of seeing the big picture
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Postby Countertrey » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:59 pm

so... sad.













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Postby DarthMonk » Tue Mar 05, 2013 5:59 pm

Countertrey wrote:so... sad.


ROTFALMAO


Yeah ... real bummer.

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Postby Deadskins » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:45 pm

The Cowboys could argue that they are in great win-now position because the NFC East is depleted.

Really? Besides the Smeagols, how is the East depleted? And it's not like a winning season adds cap space. It only angers fans when you have to cut the stars that got you there, and have to suffer through lean rebuilding years.
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Postby HTTRRG3ALMO » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:02 pm

Deadskins wrote:
The Cowboys could argue that they are in great win-now position because the NFC East is depleted.

Really? Besides the Smeagols, how is the East depleted? And it's not like a winning season adds cap space. It only angers fans when you have to cut the stars that got you there, and have to suffer through lean rebuilding years.


Wonder if they're cutting anyone worth stealing

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Postby SouthLondonRedskin » Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:24 am

I really enjoyed reading that, thank you.

The 'depleted' NFC East has the Superbowl winning Giants from just over a year ago in it and the up and coming force in football that is the Redskins.

Their fans should be seriously worried.

For us it's nice to read TTiT will not be in much of a position to challenge for a few years anyway. They can battle it out with Philly for 3rd/4th.
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Postby 1niksder » Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:25 am

Deadskins wrote:
The Cowboys could argue that they are in great win-now position because the NFC East is depleted.

Really? Besides the Smeagols, how is the East depleted? And it's not like a winning season adds cap space. It only angers fans when you have to cut the stars that got you there, and have to suffer through lean rebuilding years.


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Postby HEROHAMO » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:20 pm

DarthMonk wrote:
Countertrey wrote:so... sad.


ROTFALMAO


Yeah ... real bummer.

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\:D/ ROTFALMAO :celebrate:
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Postby yupchagee » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:56 pm

HTTRRG3ALMO wrote:
Deadskins wrote:
The Cowboys could argue that they are in great win-now position because the NFC East is depleted.

Really? Besides the Smeagols, how is the East depleted? And it's not like a winning season adds cap space. It only angers fans when you have to cut the stars that got you there, and have to suffer through lean rebuilding years.


Wonder if they're cutting anyone worth stealing


Even if they do, we don't have the cap space.
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