IRVING, Texas -- With the news that the Dallas Cowboys have reached an agreement with Cole Beasley on a four-year deal comes the natural wondering why they have not been able to strike deals for Dez Bryant or DeMarco Murray.
Beasley's deal and the contracts for Bryant and Murray will be in far different neighborhoods.
Beasley's cap figure for 2015 is likely less than $2 million based on the $4 million signing bonus and how the Cowboys have structured deals in the past with the first-year base salaries being at or close to the NFL minimum. Once the contract numbers are filed, we'll know for sure.
The $7 million guaranteed for Beasley in the deal will be less than what Bryant and Murray will get in total compensation in the first year of their deals. As it stands right now, Bryant will make $12.82 million on the franchise tag in 2015. His guaranteed money should be more than $30 million. Murray is likely looking at a guarantee in the $20 million neighborhood.
Beasley's $3.4 million average is higher than some might have expected, but slot receivers are a valuable commodity. It is a mismatch game and Beasley, despite his size (5-8, 180 pounds) is a mismatch player. His quickness and field awareness make him difficult for slot corners to cover. Orlando Scandrick is one of the better slot corners in the NFL and he has trouble with Beasley at times.
In the past two seasons, Beasley has 76 catches and six touchdowns. His production rose toward the end of the 2014 season to where Tony Romo was looking at him and Jason Witten more than he was Bryant and Terrance Williams with how defenses were taking guarding the outside receivers.
The Cowboys could have put the low tender on Beasley as a restricted free agent for roughly $1.5 million and run the risk of a team making an offer they could not match. They would not have received compensation in return either because Beasley was an undrafted free agent. They could have put the second-round tender on Beasley for about $2.4 million, which would have guaranteed no team would have made a play for him.
But that would have eaten up more cap space in 2015, and that would have hurt the Cowboys' bid to keep Murray but had no impact on Bryant.
Every dollar counts in the salary cap.
Beasley got his piece of the puzzle and has earned it. But there is still room for bigger pieces, like Murray, that the Cowboys can fit into their puzzle.