Cowboys face tough cap situation in 2013

IRVING, Texas – If you’re expecting the Cowboys to be able to make massive overhauls in 2013 through free agency, then you might want to sit tight, because they will be challenged by the salary cap.

As it stands, the Cowboys are over the projected $121 million cap for 2013 by roughly $20 million with only 44 players under contract.

The Cowboys have roughly $132 million tied up in cap space for the 44 players and have to account for the remaining $5 million penalty from the sanctions for how the team dealt with the uncapped year in 2010, dead money, like the $2 million remaining from the release of Terence Newman last spring, and incentives and escalators players will hit this season.

Players signed to futures contracts and the 2013 draft picks also have to be budgeted for.

The Cowboys can create room by cutting players, reworking contracts and extending quarterback Tony Romo, but it will be difficult to find the cap space to keep a player like outside linebacker Anthony Spencer or add high-level free agents.

The Cowboys will rework the contract of cornerback Brandon Carr, who is set to count $16.3 million against the cap, to save them roughly $10.5 million in space. Romo is set to count $16.8 million as he enters the final year of his contract, but that number could be cut in half with an extension.

Other players, like Doug Free, Miles Austin, Jay Ratliff and Dan Connor, could be released, have their deals reworked or asked to take less money in order to stay. If the Cowboys choose to part ways with Free and designate him a post-June 1 cut, they would free up $7 million in cap space but carry over dead money into 2014.