IRVING, Texas – It's no secret that the Cowboys' cap situation puts them in a tricky, unfavorable spot with the free agency period on the horizon.
Line one is figuring out how to extend quarterback Tony Romo and bring back Anthony Spencer, though neither is a lock to occur.
But Romo isn't the only star player with a contract expiring after the 2013 season. If the Cowboys can't find a way to unload some cap space this offseason, they could find themselves in a similar situation next year with a few key contributors set to become free agents, most notably linebacker Sean Lee.
After Romo, Lee headlines a group of players with contracts set to expire after the 2013 season, including kicker Dan Bailey and defensive lineman Jason Hatcher.
If the Cowboys make some sort of offer to Spencer, that will only make those deals a year later that much more difficult to sort out, considering the team is already sitting at around $20 million over the cap.
That's not to say Spencer isn't worth a contract, but the Cowboys only have so much money to dole out. They need to keep in mind what they want to do at the end of next season and prioritize their players before making immediate deals this offseason. Undoubtedly, they'd like Spencer back, but they have to ask themselves if Spencer's first double-digit sack season is a sign of years to come or an anomaly. [embedded_ad]
That decision will be costly in every sense of the term, as is Romo's cap hit entering the 2013 season if the Cowboys can't ink some sort of extension.
Fast forward another year to the end of the 2014 season and Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Bruce Carter are all free agents. At some point soon, the Cowboys need to decide which players they can afford to let walk and which ones need to be locked up, or they could lose young cornerstones of the franchise in the near future.