Salary Cap may land around $185M but Cowboys must wait to know for sure

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Cameron Burnett
·3 min read
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Following a turbulent year on and off the field, the Dallas Cowboys have several contract negotiations soon to ramp up in the coming months. These include the likes of quarterback Dak Prescott, defensive end Aldon Smith, and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.

As part of negotiations last year, the NFL and NFLPA set a $175 million minimum for the 2021 salary cap, knowing COVID-19 would have a large impact due to lower revenue from ticket and concession sales. The sides still have yet to reach a firm number, and the final decision may come extremely close to the start of the new league year, as reported by NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Wednesday night.

The NFL and NFLPA began preliminary negotiations last month on the 2021 salary cap. Some team officials believe (and surely hope) the cap will ultimately land closer to $185 million per club — if not a little higher — than the $175 million minimum the sides agreed to last summer as they braced for empty and mostly empty stadiums.

The league didn’t provide clubs with its annual cap projection at the delayed labor seminar Tuesday, nor has it committed to exactly how to spread the impact of an unprecedented multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall in 2020 over the next few years.

The cap was set at $198.2 million per team this past season and a decline could lead to a lot of tough decisions for the Cowboys in the upcoming free agency cycle. With 23 free agents this summer, there will be a lot of decisions to be made by Jerry Jones and the front office regarding their potential roster.

With Prescott’s market rising and the lack of information regarding the salary cap, contract negotiations could be delayed until near March 17, when the league year begins.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt told reporters this week the final number may not be set until “hours before the start of the league year” March 17. More realistically, teams may find out the number just days before the free-agent negotiating period begins March 15.

The franchise tag window opens prior to the start of the league year and normally lasts for two weeks. This year’s window opens February 23.

This could ultimately lead to a last-second, second-consecutive franchise tag for the QB to extend the negotiation period up to the deadline of July 15. After that, a long-term deal cannot be reached.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith will be answering questions in a press conference on Thursday and could provide clarity on the upcoming decision for the 2021 salary cap.

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