Salary cap help for the Cowboys?

For the last few weeks we've heard the new salary cap will be $120 million with NFL teams required to spend at least 90 percent of that.

Now comes more talk the salary cap is in name only. It might be a soft cap which allows teams to spend what they want without penalty.

Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle says teams over the salary cap might not get penalized or forced to cut veterans they need.

Update: Two agents and one team official said they hadn't heard anything about a soft cap. However, NFL teams might get a $3 million credit against the salary cap to soften the blow of highly priced vets staying on the roster.

The Cowboys are roughly $18 million over the cap and have several needs along the offensive and defensive lines and the safety position.

If there are no penalties for being over the cap, that means teams can keep trusted vets.

Would the Cowboys then keep Terence Newman?

What about Roy Williams, a $12.9 million cap hit? Keep him?

Says Zierlein:

"In fact, there may not be any penalties for teams who are over the $120 million dollar threshold. What that would allow teams to do is hang onto veterans, if they so choose, without penalty. What was less clear to me was whether or not we’ll actually even see a salary cap. It is my understanding that for the first few years of this deal, the “cap” on spending could be soft or even non-existant."

This new quirk in the salary cap means the big market teams, Dallas, New England and New York, could spend as much as they want without penalty while small market teams, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Oakland, might not cut highly priced vets to make salary cap room for.

This is an advantage for the big market teams, if this is the case.

Dan Graziano, our NFC East blogger, who really is a baseball man at heart, says a soft salary cap, at least for the first few years of a expected new CBA benefits teams such as the Cowboys and Giants.

ESPN's John Clayton lists which NFL teams are under or over the salary cap here.