Patrick Crayton deal shows money is priority

ARLINGTON, Texas – Why the heck would finances influence the Cowboys’ 53-man roster decisions in an uncapped season that will end with a Super Bowl in Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion football palace?

I asked that question to Jerry this afternoon as he stood in his jewel of a stadium.

“Well, I don’t know that it does, first of all,” Jerry said. “That’s a given that I’m not ready to say does.”

OK, but let’s be honest. The Cowboys just traded Patrick Crayton, a productive player owed $2 million this season, to San Diego for a seventh-round pick.

That certainly isn’t a move made to improve the Cowboys’ chances of contending this season.

There is also a possibility that Sam Hurd will be gone after Saturday’s final cuts. That wouldn’t make the Cowboys a better team, but it would save $1.759 million.

Jerry explained that the Cowboys have to conduct business as if they were operating in a salary cap. They anticipate a cap being part of the next collective bargaining agreement, and they don’t want to do anything this season that could negatively impact them down the road.

“Anything that might appear to be financial has really everything to do with the fact that it’s not all about the dollars this year,” Jerry said, mentioning that the Cowboys intend to lock up players such as Miles Austin and Anthony Spencer to long-term extensions. “It has to do with the decisions we’re going to be making a few months from now. You have to look ahead at the overall two- or three-season picture. That hasn’t changed in my mind.”

Here’s the problem with that explanation: There isn’t a guaranteed penny left on Crayton’s or Hurd’s contracts. Crayton would be due $2.5 million next season, but it isn’t guaranteed. Hurd has a one-year tender offer.

How does shedding those salaries impact the future?

“You have the ability and you have the potential liability if you have cap money that you overspend,” Jerry said. “You could go into a system that might say, ‘You know what? Y’all had too big of a cap back then.’ So we’re going basically say that we’re not going to do it then. It doesn’t give us money for cap money.

“We wouldn’t want to see a club that has a lot of cap money for the future dump it all in this year and then turn around and say, ‘Hey, we’re ready to go in this new system.’

“Follow me? See what I’m saying? I don’t think you do.”

I had to confess that I was confused. I didn’t follow Jerry’s logic at all.

Dumping Crayton and perhaps Hurd saves millions of dollars, but it doesn’t make a bit of football sense.