IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys didn't spend any new money on Monday, but they freed up a bit more space on their 2016 salary cap.
As the free agency period moved on into its sixth day, the Cowboys re-structured Tyron Smith's contract, freeing up another $7.2 million under their current contract. It was a long-expected move, given the team-friendly nature of Smith's eight-year, $96 million contract. Essentially, the re-structure converts $9 million of Smith's $10 million salary into a signing bonus to free up more salary cap space.
That doesn't necessarily mean the Cowboys have plans for the extra money, though. They need some spare money to sign their 2016 draft class, and they also have the option to carry the cap space over to next year.
But it doesn't look like the free agency period is totally over for the Cowboys. Long-rumored free agency target Eric Weddle signed with Baltimore on Monday morning, but that doesn't mean the Cowboys are done looking for help.
Among last week's visitors, the Cowboys are still in contact with cornerback Nolan Carroll and quarterback Matt Moore – neither of which has signed a free agent contract as of yet. They also have at least one more high profile visitor scheduled for this week, as Chris Long is expected to visit the team facility on Wednesday.
As a former No. 2 overall draft pick, Long is one of the bigger names remaining on the opening market following his release from the St. Louis Rams last month. The 30-year-old pass rusher posted 33 total sacks between 2010 and 2012, but injuries have limited him the past couple years. Long appeared in just six games in 2014 with one sack. Last season he appeared in 12 games but started just five, and he managed just three sacks.
It will be interesting to see how much of a priority the Cowboys place on the pass rush in the coming weeks. They signed defensive tackle Cedric Thornton to a four-year deal last week, but he isn't much of a pass rush specialist. Defensive end looms as one of the team' biggest needs, especially considering that Randy Gregory is facing a four-game suspension to start the year.
In the meantime, there's a bit more cap room to work with. The Cowboys also opened up $4.4 million in space by re-structuring Tyrone Crawford's contract last week. Of course, one also has to factor in last week's signings of Rolando McClain, Thornton, Josh Thomas, Morris Claiborne, James Hanna and Kyle Wilber.
None of those deals will break the bank on its own, but it's easy to see why the Cowboys opted to give themselves a bit of breathing space.