FRISCO, Texas -- With the 2020 season set to start in three days, the Dallas Cowboys continue to think about 2021 -- at least from a salary-cap perspective and with an eye toward Dak Prescott's future.
According to sources, the Cowboys restructured the contract of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, creating $12 million in cap space.
With the recent restructuring of contracts for offensive linemen Tyron Smith ($7.1 million) and Zack Martin ($7.9 million), as well as Lawrence, the Cowboys have created roughly $27 million in cap room. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Cowboys were $18.3 million under the cap before the Lawrence move.
Lawrence had $15 million of his $16.9 million base salary turned into signing bonus to create the added room. As was the case with Smith's deal, the Cowboys also added a voidable year to Lawrence's contract; he is currently signed through 2024, allowing the team to spread the new proration over five years.
The Cowboys, like all teams, will carry over all unused cap space this season to 2021, which is more imperative now because the cap is expected to shrink significantly because of the coronavirus pandemic. The cap this year is $198.2 million and the floor of the 2021 cap will be $175 million.
If the Cowboys have to use the franchise tag on Prescott a second time, it would cost them $37.7 million. Before the restructures for Smith, Martin and Lawrence, they would not have had the room for the tag, which would have required more restructuring or the releasing of players next season.
If the Cowboys and Prescott can avoid the franchise tag and reach an agreement on a long-term deal, the team would have ample cap space to extend other players or simply carry that money forward to 2022.
Under rules of the franchise tag, the Cowboys and Prescott cannot sign a long-term deal until after this season.