Cowboys have decisions to make regarding cap

IRVING, Texas – For the last two days the Cowboys have had their first in-depth meetings regarding the players on the roster.

After signing seven players in unrestricted free agency last year, including cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million deal, the Cowboys will be hard-pressed to be as active this year when the market opens March 12.

“The salary cap is tight around the league and it’s tight here in Dallas,” coach Jason Garrett said, “so we have to make some decisions. We’ve spent the last couple of days here talking about our personnel. We’ve got to make some good decisions with our personnel and how we think we can help our team with guys who are available free agents. Obviously we also have an opportunity to help ourselves in the draft, so we have to put all of this together.

“We’ve just started the discussions, and those decisions will be critical for our success.”

The Cowboys will have to make a number of moves – cutting players, restructuring contracts and/or signing quarterback Tony Romo to an extension – just to get under the $121 million cap. Executive vice president Stephen Jones has acknowledged the cap is more of a challenge this year than in recent years.

The Cowboys will restructure Carr’s contract, which will save about $10.5 million in space, and can look to rework the deals of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten, which would create about $6.5 million in space. A new deal for Romo would likely cut his $16.8 million salary-cap figure in half.

Players such as Doug Free, Dan Connor, Jay Ratliff, Marcus Spears and Lawrence Vickers could be cut or asked to take pay cuts to remain in Dallas, which would open up more space.

The Cowboys would like to keep Anthony Spencer and will have discussions with his agent, Jordan Woy, this month. Woy has said Spencer’s preference is to remain with the Cowboys, but the team might not have the financial wherewithal to keep him.