For the most part, Cowboys have a clean cap

IRVING, Texas – Over the years, the Dallas Cowboys have had to make a number of personnel decisions based strictly on the salary cap.

DeMarcus Ware was a salary-cap move last year. So was Miles Austin. They counted $8.571 million and $2.749 million against the Cowboys’ cap in 2014 despite playing for other teams. Austin will count $5.106 million against the Dallas cap in 2015 because he was designated a post-June 1 cut last year. Kyle Orton will count $2.25 million against the cap this season even though he spent last season in Buffalo.

Before you get too excited over that, Orton would have counted that much against the cap even if he was Tony Romo’s backup in 2014 because the final year of his deal would have voided.

In 2013, they made Marcus Spears a post-June 1 cut, so he counted $1.4 million against the cap in 2014. Nate Livings counted $2.1 million against the cap in 2014. In 2012, Terence Newman was a salary-cap casualty.

In cleaning up their cap the last few seasons, the Cowboys really have only one player who could fall into the salary-cap trap in 2015.

Cornerback Brandon Carr carries a $12.717 million cap charge and is scheduled to make an $8 million base salary. Only Darrelle Revis ($25 million) and Patrick Peterson ($14.791 million) have higher salary-cap figures than Carr among cornerbacks.

Carr did not have an interception in 2014, but he played much better in the final five games than he did in the first 11. Just not enough to warrant that payday.

The Cowboys will offer Carr a chance to stay at a cheaper rate, like they did with right tackle Doug Free in 2013, or cut him altogether. Making Carr a post-June 1 cut saves the Cowboys $8 million against the cap in 2015, but he would count $7.434 million against the 2016 cap.

If the Cowboys don’t designate Carr a June 1 cut, then they will save $566,000 against the cap in 2015, but he will not be on the 2016 books.

The only other “cap casualty” candidates this year would be backup guard Mackenzy Bernadeau and backup linebacker Dekoda Watson. Bernadeau has a $2.824 million cap figure and a $1.5 million base salary. Watson will count $1.25 million.

Cutting both players would save $2.75 million against the cap, but it would leave the Cowboys without a veteran backup interior offensive lineman in Bernadeau. There really is no benefit to cutting Bernadeau. Watson was hurt for most of his time with the Cowboys and is viewed as a special teamer right now. He is much more expendable.