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The Dallas Cowboys have always been a team that spent all the way right up to the salary cap, leaving no stone unturned. When the rules of the NFL changed in recent years, allowed organizations to rollover unspent cap space to the next season, Dallas has taken advantage of that, but still remained one of the top spenders. They haven’t used it to buy high-priced free agents, but they’ve still spent to try and maximize their roster in the way they saw as best.
But in 2020, with a raging pandemic and a gigantic decrease in the usually always-exploding cap for the next season, Dallas was cautious in their spending. With a quarterback situation up in the air and a large sum of money already committed to a group of star players, the Cowboys didn’t open their wallets the way they had in the past, and therefore are rolling over a sizable amount of unused cap space into 2021. Dallas will take the third-highest amount with them in the league, $25.4 million.
This figure will be adjusted once incentive clauses (likely to be earned, not likely to be earned) from 2020 contracts are calculated.
The 2021 cap amount has not yet been decided. Last year, the league negotiated with the NFLPA that, in anticipation of lost money from having no or limited fans attending games, that they needed to set a floor for how low the cap could go, as it’s based on a percentage of revenue. That number was set at $175 million. The 2020 cap was over $198 million and the 2021 cap was projected to be at least $210 million.
In recent months, a number of $195 million has been floated as a potential landing spot for 2021 as the league added two extra playoff games this year and will add a 17th regular season game for all 32 clubs in 2021.
For Dallas, the rolled over cap space is earmarked on potentially having to place a second-consecutive franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott. Salary cap website Over the Cap has Dallas’ projected cap number for 2021 at $174 million already, and that’s without Prescott on the ledger. A second tag will take up $37.7 million of space.