NFL salary cap, franchise tag figures announced as free agency nears
The speculation has swirled for almost two months about how much money the Cowboys would need to spend this offseason â though they didn't even find out how much money they had until Monday.
The NFL finally released official numbers for both the 2015 salary cap and 2015 franchise tag figures on Monday, giving its 32 clubs a clearer picture of what they'll be working with when the league years starts in eight days.
The official salary cap figure for 2015 is slated at $143.28 million, which is a $10 million bump from the 2014 total of $133 million.
Also pertinent to the Cowboys' interest is the announcement of the franchise tag figures for the upcoming season. The team confirmed over the weekend that it will use the franchise tag on All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant by Monday's 3 p.m. deadline.
The cost of doing so has been officially set at $12.83 million. That hefty price will keep Bryant off the free agent market, but it also doesn't preclude the two sides from continuing to work on a long-term contract during the coming months.
The Cowboys have until July 15 to sign Bryant to a multi-year contract before they must break off negotiations until after the 2015 season.
Unlike in recent years, the Cowboys are in enviable financial shape. They are already under the salary cap, and even using the franchise tag won't put them over the limit. Now, the question will be whether they want to try to free up some additional space to work in free agency.
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There's no shortage of free agency targets they'll want to pursue. DeMarco Murray is chief among those, as he is coming off an 1,845-yard season. But there are also key contributors like Cole Beasley, Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, Justin Durant, Rolando McClain and Bruce Carter to consider.
Behind them are other names worth considering, like Anthony Spencer, Sterling Moore and Dwayne Harris.
It's unlikely the Cowboys will be able to re-sign everyone, but they could potentially restructure deals with the likes of Tyron Smith, Jason Witten, Sean Lee and possibly Tony Romo to clear up additional room.
Free agency doesn't officially open until March 10, so only time will tell on that front.
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