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Getting Under Cap Could Include Cutting Ties With Safety Net


INDIANAPOLIS – There is no secret the Cowboys are over the salary cap and must shave about $20 million – if not much more – by March 12.

Getting $20 million off the books just gets the Cowboys in compliance with the NFL, but they'd prefer a little more so they can be somewhat active in free agency.

To get there, the Cowboys will have to restructure a few contracts, give Tony Romo a new deal altogether and definitely cut a few high-priced contracts.

Players such as Doug Free and Dan Connor have been mentioned and will probably fall into the cap-casualty group. Guys like Miles Austin and Jay Ratliff have also been speculated as offseason cuts but this weekend, Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones have both highly suggested those two would return next year.

But there could be more players getting waived for financial reasons. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh could very well be in that group.

It's not like the Cowboys will save a ton of money by cutting Sensabaugh – about $1.4 million off the cap in 2013. However, Sensabaugh does have about $3 million in guaranteed base salary this year that the Cowboys will likely want to avoid. That salary is guaranteed if he's on the roster March 12.

But if the Cowboys are thinking of letting go Sensabaugh, it might speak to the fact they aren't 100 percent pleased with his play.

Last season, Sensabaugh was solid, starting 15 games. But he had no interceptions and ranked ninth in the team with 62 tackles.

This weekend, owner Jerry Jones said switching to a 4-3 defense under Monte Kiffin will "make the safeties better." Jones alluded to the fact the Cowboys could possibly go on the cheap side at safety, knowing that Kiffin's scheme won't ask them to have true playmakers at safety.

Earlier this weekend, VP/director of player personnel Stephen Jones said safety was arguably the biggest area of need this offseason.

He clarified that statement Monday morning.

"It's not like we don't have two people we think can start for us in Matt Johnson and Barry Church," Jones said. "Obviously Matt's never done it. That's a serious projection, but we loved everything about him except that he was hurt – the way he moved around when he was healthy, the way he caught on to things, the way he knew things. But they're both coming off injuries so you've got two young guys you want to come through for you."

Church coming off an Achilles injury, although he did sign a three-year extension. Danny McCray is a restricted free agent and more of a special teams contributor. Johnson hasn't played a snap and the Cowboys have two more unrestricted free agents at safety in Eric Frampton and Charlie Peprah. Frampton, who led the team in special teams tackles in 2012, might return to the Cowboys next season if a reasonable can get worked out.

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