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The 5 O’Clock Club: What are other people writing about the Giants’, Cowboys’ & Eagles’ salary cap situations?

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Final Round Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

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Two of the three teams with the highest dead cap charges in the NFL are in the NFC East.

Excessive dead money can inhibit a team’s ability to field a competitive team. The salary cap room needed to be active in free agency or give contract extensions to important players on the team shrinks. Although the NFL sets the salary cap annually, each team’s adjusted salary cap varies because unused salary cap room can be carried over from one year to the next. The carryover ability can help offset the effect of dead money.

Three NFL teams currently have more $25 million in dead money. There’s a correlation between dead money and team performance so far this season. The three teams leading in dead money have a combined 5-10 record. The 49ers, who didn’t quite hit the $25 million threshold, are 1-4.

New York Giants

Dead Money: $30.735 million

Adjusted Salary Cap: $178,049,071

Dead Money Percentage: 17.26 percent

Biggest Charges: Jason Pierre-Paul (DE) $15 million, Ereck Flowers (OT) $4,582,659, John Jerry (G) $2.55 million, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB) $2 million.

Jason Pierre-Paul Nearly half of New York’s dead money comes from trading Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers in March. The four-year, $62 million contract (worth up to $66 million through salary escalators) Pierre-Paul signed in 2017 as a franchise player contained a $20 million signing bonus. The Giants only gained $2.5 million of cap space this year. Having Pierre-Paul off the books for the future creates $19.5 million and $17.5 million of cap room respectively in 2019 and 2020.

Ereck Flowers The Giants waived the white flag on Flowers on Tuesday. The 2015 ninth overall pick was supposed to anchor the offensive line for years to come. Briefly making Nate Solder the NFL’s highest paid offensive lineman to take over at left tackle, which is where Flowers has played the last three seasons, was an indictment of his performance. Consequently the Giants didn’t pick up Flowers’ 2019 fifth-year option for $12.525 million. The experiment of moving Flowers to right tackle this season also failed.

John Jerry Jerry was also a casualty of the offensive line overhaul. The 2017 free-agent signee took a pay cut in the offseason and had his 2019 contract year deleted in the process, to stay after 16 unimpressive starts last season. He didn’t survive the roster cutdown at the end of the preseason.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Rodgers-Cromartie balking at drastically cutting his scheduled $6.5 million 2018 salary and a possible move to safety led to the Giants releasing him in March. His $2 million in dead money is almost double the money he’s making from his one-year contract with the Raiders.

The Giants have been active with their roster this week, changing the numbers from the article above:

Dallas Cowboys

Dead Money: $28.24 million

Adjusted Salary Cap: $185,900,556

Dead Money Percentage: 15.19 percent

Biggest Charges: Tony Romo (QB) $8.9 million, Dez Bryant (WR) $8 million, Cedric Thornton (DL) $2.5 million.

Tony Romo The Cowboys’ aggressive approach to managing the salary cap caught up with them on Romo. Annual restructuring of contracts to free up cap space by continuing to push cap obligations into the future is a way of life in Dallas.

The $19.6 million salary cap charge relating to the bonus proration in Romo’s 2013 extension and subsequent contract restructurings for cap purposes in 2014 and 2015 is being taken over two years, 2017 and 2018, because he was released with a post-June 1 designation after he decided to retire in the 2017 offseason. If Romo’s 2013 extension had been left alone, the Cowboys would have a $5 million cap charge in 2017 relating to the retirement instead of the $10.7 million of dead money they had for him. There also wouldn’t have been any 2018 dead money for Romo.

Dez Bryant Dallas picked up $8.5 million of cap space from Bryant’s mid-April release. Owner Jerry Jones lamented earlier this week that he hadn’t had a number one wide receiver in several years. That’s been true since 2015 when Bryant signed a five-year, $70 million contract with $45 million in guarantees after being designated as a franchise player. In the 3 years Bryant played under the contract, he averaged 50 catches for a little less than 680 yards with just under six touchdowns each season. He missed 10 games during the span and didn’t have a 1,000 receiving yard season.

Individual Leaders

There are also 10 players with at least $7.5 million in dead money this year. They are in the chart below.

The Cowboys situation had a dramatic change this week (after I prepared this article) when the Cowboys traded a 1st round pick to the Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper’s cap number for 2018 is negligible, at less than $412,000, but his 2019 cap charge is scheduled at $13.9m. One assumes that, having traded a first round pick, the Cowboys will want to sign Cooper to a multi-year extension. It will be interesting to see if they do, and how much they think he’s worth.

Here's what ProFootballTalk had to say about Dallas and Cooper's contract situation:

If the Cowboys decide after the season to approach Cooper about an extension, his response will (or at least should) be simple: Give me $13.924 million for 2019 and a 20-percent raise for 2020 ($16.7 million), which equates to more than $30.6 million, fully guaranteed at signing. If the Cowboys decide to see how 2019 goes, the price for 2020 becomes, at a minimum, $16.7 million for 2020 and a 20-percent raise ($20 million) for 2021. That’s $36.7 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Absent a deal like that, Cooper could simply opt to go year to year under the tag. Or he could hold out (his agent, Joel Segal, engineered the Khalil Mackshowdown in Oakland) and possibly force another trade.

Of course, Cooper isn’t in Mack’s league. And that’s what will make the situation so dicey for the Cowboys. In exchange for a first-round pick, they have his services for a season and a half. Beyond that, the only way to keep him off the open market will be to tag him or to sign him to a long-term deal that simulates multiple seasons of the franchise tag, regardless of whether his performance objectively merits it.

Philadelphia Eagles

I wrote an article a few weeks ago about the 2019 cap space for each team in the NFC East.

Here’s part of what I wrote about the Eagles:

The Eagles stand out as having the worst projected cap situation in the league. At the moment, they are projected to be $19.5m over the salary cap.

To make things more concerning for Eagles fans, Philly has about a half-dozen important players from the current squad that will be free agents after the season ends.

Through 5 weeks of this season (6 for the Eagles), it’s a bit too early to tell if Howie’s attempts to keep the championship squad intact was worth it, but the Eagles will almost certainly be forced by salary cap pressure to re-make the team in the 2019 offseason. Don’t be shocked to see Howie Roseman make some trades to part with some expensive veteran players this off season in return for 2019 draft picks.

Jimmy Kempski has written his take on the Eagles cap situation:

The Eagles will easily be able to free up a lot of money to get back under the cap, while also having the ability to free up additional money. However, by freeing up that extra money, the Eagles are also going to have to replace a lot of contributing players.

  • If the Eagles opted not to pick up Nick Foles’ option in 2019, or if they traded him, that would get them back under the cap immediately. That decision will seemingly be a no-brainer, particularly if the team views Nate Sudfeld as a legitimate No. 2 quarterback behind Carson Wentz. I believe they already do, and will even more so by 2019. Foles leaving would net almost $19 million in savings.
  • It’s beginning to feel very likely that this is Jason Peters’ last year in the NFL. He won’t be easily replaced. While the Eagles won a Super Bowl with Halapoulivaati Vaitai at LT, the dropoff from “good Peters” to Big V was steep. The Eagles still have Vaitai, of course, as well as a developing Jordan Mailata behind the scenes, but they’d still probably have to look at adding to the offensive tackle pipeline. Whatever the case, that’s another $8 million.
  • After being benched in favor of Isaac Seumalo, I can’t imagine the Eagles keeping an unhappy Stefen Wisniewski around in favor of a savings of $3,000,000.
  • I fear that Chris Maragos’ knee injury could be a career-ender, or at a minimum, it could affect his ability to remain one of the best special teamers in the game. We’ll see. That would be another $2 million.

Moving on from those four players combined would save roughly $32 million, putting the Eagles about $17 million under OverTheCap’s projected cap.

Yes, the Eagles can easily get under the salary cap in 2019 by releasing players. Some of those losses won’t hurt much. Some would. But they won’t have much in the way of financial resources to attack the free agent market.

So they better draft well.


Which NFC East team has the most to gain or lose in the 2019 draft?

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