Miles Austin, DeMarcus Ware, Bruce Cater among players the Dallas Cowboys should consider cutting
By Matthew Postins
Earlier this week we profiled the overall salary cap situation for the Dallas Cowboys today we start maneuvering to get the Cowboys under the cap. Then we looked at five players the Cowboys should consider signing to contract extensions and the five players the Cowboys whose contracts the team should consider restructuring.
Now, we’ll look at five players that the Cowboys should consider cutting for cap space. By cutting a player the Cowboys can create some cap room, but it also means that they’ll have to absorb some pain in the way of dead money. But sometimes it’s worth it to do so.
So which five players should the Cowboys consider cutting for cap space? Here’s our list.
WR Miles Austin (counts $8.2 million against the 2014 salary cap). Some are under the belief that this is already in the works. Multiple outlets have reported that the Cowboys are considering cutting Austin as a post-June 1 roster cut. That’s important for cap purposes. By designating Austin that way, the Cowboys can spread his remaining cap hit over two seasons and not one. By cutting Austin the Cowboys save $5.5 million in base salary for 2014, which is not guaranteed. But it also means the Cowboy have to take the hit on the rest of Austin’s cap number, which is tied to his guaranteed money. The belief is that Austin’s remaining guaranteed money will take up about $5 million in cap space in 2014 and $5 million in 2015. That’s a steep price to pay, but the Cowboys need the space now. Plus, Terrence Williams emerged as a better No. 2 option in 2013, lessening the need to keep Austin around at a steep price.
DE DeMarcus Ware (counts $16 million against the 2014 salary cap). It’s likely that the Cowboys will try to restructure this deal. But what if Ware ultimately says no? What if the Cowboys believe that Ware’s past two seasons are indicative of a player on the decline and not of a player fighting injuries? Then Dallas has a decision to make and it’s likely to be painful. Cutting DeMarcus Ware now would save the Cowboys $7.7 million base salary for 2014. But what about the guaranteed money tied up in Ware? The Cowboys would take an accelerated cap hit of $8.5 million in 2014, but then Ware would come off the books a year later, or the Cowboys could make him a post-June 1 cut and split it over two years. I think it’s unlikely the Cowboys will cut Ware, though. Consider cutting Ware a last resort option.
G Mackenzy Bernadeau (counts $4.074 million against the 2014 salary cap). Bernadeau would seem to be a bargain set against Austin and Ware, but he’s been fighting injuries each of the past two seasons and, frankly, he was outplayed by a 37-year old guard named Brian Waters last season. The Cowboys could do better. Bernadeau’s base salary jumps to $2.75 million in 2014 and 3.25 million in 2015. If they feel the time is now to cut the cord, the Cowboys could do it and absorb the $3.9 million in dead money tied to Bernadeau’s accelerated cap hit.
C Phil Costa (counts $1.5 million against the 2014 salary cap). The Cowboys need a backup center, but they can probably find one cheaper than Costa’s $1.5 million in base salary in 2014. Costa is entering the last year of his contract and has practically no dead money attached to it ($225,000). If the Cowboys need to clear $1.5 million in cap space with no fuss and little accelerated cap hit, Costa is a good candidate.
LB Bruce Carter (counts $1.5 million against the 2014 salary cap). This is one of those moves that would look curious, given that Carter is entering the final year of his deal. Call it a truly desperate act by the Cowboys to create cap space, as Carter has talent. But his play was quite uneven last year and Dallas could find another player in the draft or in free agency to man his weak-side position. Cutting Carter would save nearly $1 million in base salary
Information compiled from Spotrac.com, Overthecap.com, the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, ESPNDallas.com, CBSSports.com and USAToday.com was used in this report.