On the Cowboys' cap quandary

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
9:49
AM ET
Calvin Watkins reports that the Dallas Cowboys are still about $6.8 million over the salary cap. They have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to get under. And no, you're not imagining things. They did work to get under the cap last week, but then they went right back over when they decided to apply a $10.6 million franchise tag to Anthony Spencer.

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Now, as Calvin points out, there is work the Cowboys can do to get in compliance by the deadline. But the best way for them to do so was and still is to finalize a contract extension with quarterback Tony Romo. It would reduce Romo's 2013 cap hit by enough to get them under, and it would offer he added benefit of allowing them to know who their quarterback is for the next half-decade. If you don't think there's significant value in that, ask around the league.

I know some of you are of the belief the Cowboys should let Romo play out the final year of his contract in a "prove-it" year like the one Baltimore's Joe Flacco just delivered. I think that's flawed thinking for a number of reasons. First, it presumes to some extent that Romo's problem is, at least in part, one of motivation. I don't think that's fair or supported by evidence. Second, I think it's revisionist history on Flacco, who had basically the same year he always has in 2012 but just happened to get (and win) one more game on the end of it. It's not as though Flacco was always blowing it in big spots and then finally stopped. Flacco was always a postseason winner. He and his team just finally figured out to cap it off.

Anyway, extending Romo makes too much financial sense for the Cowboys not to do it. But that doesn't mean they will. It didn't make 2013 financial sense to franchise Spencer, but they did that because they can never seem to let go of certain of their own guys. It doesn't make too much sense, to me, to still have Jay Ratliff on the roster, but there he still is, still not even restructured. The Cowboys are a difficult team to figure and predict, and common sense doesn't always apply to all of the decisions they make. But they have trended wiser in recent years, and they do seem to seriously want to lock up Romo long-term. For all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is this current salary cap problem, they'd be wise to get that done sometime in the next 30 hours or so.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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