Report: Cowboys restructure contracts of Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins

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K.D. Drummond
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Although the Dallas Cowboys didn’t necessarily need to make any moves to become compliant with the 2021 salary cap after it was announced to be $182.5 million earlier on Wednesday, they made moves anyway. To help create room under the cap for the opening of free agency next week (March 17), the club pulled three restructure triggers to create a reported $17 million worth of space, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.

The Cowboys could have netted around $21 million in space if they restructured each players deal down to veteran minimum base salaries, so each player’s deal has not been maximized. That’s normally the case for Dallas as even last year they didn’t knock any of the deals down to the minimums for each player’s service time.

Prior to the move, Martin was set to make $11,000,000 in base salary, Smith $10,500,000 and Collins $8,550,000. Their cap hits were $17 million, $14.025 million and $12.05 million, respectively.

The base salary amounts changed to bonuses will still be paid to those players during this season, but the cap hits will be spread out evenly over the remaining years on each player’s contracts. Potentially, like the team did with DeMarcus Lawrence’s restructure last year and what was included in Prescott’s new deal, the team could add void years to help spread the hits out over a maximum of five seasons.

Void years don’t add to the contract’s length, they are simply an accounting method (read: cap magic) that allows teams to manipulate a cap that is going to expand and possibly explode as soon as the new television deals hit the NFL’s revenue along with gambling proceeds.

Currently Smith’s contract runs through 2023 while Collins and Martin’s contracts run through 2024. Smith, like Lawrence, got a void year in last year’s restructure and that hit puts dead money on the 2024 cap after his contract ends.

If any of the players sign extensions with Dallas, the cap hit still resides on those years after the void years are replaced by actual contracts.

The Cowboys still have several restructure or cuts they can make to create more cap space as needed, but $17 million is a strong starting point to enter free agency with.

For a look at these moves as well as others that were proposed, here’s Cowboys Wire’s guide to maximizing cap space in 2021.

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