IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys opted to restructure Tony Romo’s contract on Wednesday, freeing up several million dollars in salary cap space in the process.
The possibility of restructuring Romo’s deal — which, valued at $108 million overall, is easily the largest contract on the Cowboys’ books — has been tossed around throughout this offseason. It’s a common decision for teams looking to free up some spending space, as the Cowboys restructured both Romo and Sean Lee in 2014.
Earlier this offseason, the Cowboys also restructured Tyron Smith’s deal, freeing up $10 million in space.
It’s worth pointing out that the move is simply a rearrangement of Romo’s existing deal, not a pay cut. That said, it effectively functions to lower the quarterback’s astronomical cap hit of $27 million and give the Cowboys extra money to work with.
Essentially, the restructure will convert all but $1 million of Romo’s $17 million salary for 2015 to a signing bonus and reduce his cap hit by about $12.8 million.
In exchange for the short-term relief, Romo’s cap hit will increase by about $3.2 million over the next four years. His 2016 cap hit was slated to be $17.6 million, but will now bump up to $20.8 million. He will count toward the cap for $24.7 million in 2017, $25.2 million in 2018 and $23.7 million in 2019.
The savings will give the team the necessary cap room for a variety of offseason activities — namely, re-signing Rolando McClain, signing their 2015 draft picks and accounting for the bonuses worked into various contracts, such as McClain’s and Greg Hardy’s.
It would also free up some additional space for the Cowboys to pursue further moves in free agency, should they decide to. That all depends on the expenditures involved, though.
Following the restructure, the Cowboys are sitting at about $12 million in cap space, factoring in the McClain contract. All of that is subject to change, depending on the cost of upcoming draft picks, Hardy’s pending discipline from the NFL — not to mention any potential contract negotiations with Brandon Carr.
But for the time being, it does create some breathing room for the Cowboys’ cap situation.