Cowboys' cap hit nearly $90 million for 10 players

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
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Last week, there were reports regarding the cap space for the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots and how nearly 10 players take a good percentage of it.

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The 2013 salary cap for NFL teams will be nearly $121 million.

Tom Curran of CSNNE.com reported the Patriots will have $65.9 million of cap space assigned to nine players, including quarterback Tom Brady's team-high $21.8 million cap figure.

Albert Breer of NFL Network discovered the Ravens will hand out $69 million of cap space to 10 players. Terrell Suggs has the highest figure at $13.02 million.

So what about the Cowboys? After adding up the figures, the top 10 salary-cap hits total $89.6 million, with quarterback Tony Romo leading the way at $16.8 million.

When it comes time to get under the cap -- and the Cowboys are roughly $20 million over -- reducing cap figures for several players will be important. It makes sense for the Cowboys to reduce Romo's cap hit by giving him an extension because it'll give the team flexibility to sign free agents in 2013.

If the Cowboys don't want to reduce Romo's cap figure and let him play out the 2013 season, then it'd limit what the team could do in free agency.

Brandon Carr has the second-highest cap hit at $16.3 million, and it's in his contract that his deal will be restructured. DeMarcus Ware ($11.3 million) has the third-highest cap number, and his deal also could be reworked.

The Cowboys have two interesting decisions to make with RT Doug Free ($10.02 million) and NT Jay Ratliff ($7 million). Free and Ratliff could become cap casualties, but it will also be interesting if both players return at reduced salaries.

If the Cowboys release Free and or Ratliff, they better have a replacement ready.

If Free is cut, that'd leave Jermey Parnell as the starting right tackle. Ratliff's replacement might not be on the roster. You could move Jason Hatcher to defensive tackle in the new 4-3 scheme, and Jerry Jones talked about the possibility of Tyrone Crawford also moving inside from end.

Other possibilities: Chris Canty was released by the New York Giants last week, and free agent Henry Melton of the Chicago Bears could be an expensive option to replace Ratliff.

Any moves regarding the salary cap comes with a risk. When you're over the cap like the Cowboys are, there are hard decisions to make.

Here's the Top 10 Cowboys in terms of cap numbers, along with their base salaries for 2013.

1. Tony Romo (cap number $16.8 million, base salary $11.5 million)
2. Brandon Carr (cap number $16.3 million, base salary $14.3 million)
3. DeMarcus Ware (cap number $11.3 million, base salary $5.5 million)
4. Doug Free (cap number $10.2 million, base salary $7 million)
5. Miles Austin (cap number $8.3 million, base salary $6.7 million)
6. Jason Witten (cap number $8 million, base salary $5.5 million)
7. Jay Ratliff (cap number $7 million, base salary $5 million)
8. Dan Connor (cap number $4.3 million, base salary $3 million)
9. Gerald Sensabaugh (cap number $3.8 million, base salary $3 million)
10. Orlando Scandrick (cap nunmber $3.78 million, base salary $2 million)
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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