By Matthew Postins
Monday for the Dallas Cowboys was as notable for what happened as what didn’t happen.
The Cowboys cut Dan Connor to save cap space. They also restructured three more contracts – cornerback Orlando Scandrick, defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau. Those moves all got the Cowboys under the salary cap heading into free agency on Tuesday.
But one contract that did not get restructured looms large, and that’s the contract of quarterback Tony Romo.
Connor was to count $4.35 million against the salary cap. But cutting him will save the Cowboys $3 million in base salary.
Scandrick was set to count $3.8 million, Ratliff was set to count $7 million and Bernadeau was set to count $2.56 million. ‘
According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Ratliff allowed the Cowboys to convert his $3.66 million base salary into a signing bonus to save space. The same went for Scandrick ($2 million) and Bernadeau ($1.75 million).
That’s how the Cowboys have navigated the choppy waters the past two weeks, shaving about $20 million in salary over the 2013 cap, which is about $123 million. The Cowboys were under it at one point before slapping the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer, who will cost the Cowboys more than $10 million in 2013.
Monday’s moves were designed to offset Spencer’s contract. Varying reports have the Cowboys with as little as $175,000 and as much as $1 million going into free agency. Either way, they’re not expected to spend much.
Meanwhile, Romo’s contract hangs in the ether. He is signed for one more year and counts $16.8 million against the salary cap. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told reporters at the Scouting Combine that extending Romo’s deal was a top priority this offseason, but thus far there has been no visible movement.
The Cowboys could get additional free agent money by extending Romo’s deal, or by signing Spencer to a long-term, bonus-laden deal, but neither seems likely in advance of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CST start to free agency.