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Mailbag: Does every team face same cap issues?


It seems every year the Cowboys face salary cap issues and are forced to make moves and restructure contracts just to bring in some second-tier free agents. But I'm wondering, is this just normal business in the NFL? Does every team go through this, but we just hear about it more with our team? If not, do the Cowboys need a new strategy on free agency? – Adrian Hoffman/Grand Prairie, TX

Nick Eatman: Yes, every team deals with their version of salary-cap issues. But remember, teams have different strategies. I'd be lying if I knew what all teams are doing because it's hard enough to figure out this one. But just look around the league and see these teams that are cutting really good players or trading them for next-to-nothing. That's their version of cap issues. I'd like to do a study on this, but it seems to me that the teams that are having a hard time managing the cap are the ones that have recently given out a huge quarterback contract. Those are the ones that really affect your cap. You can manage it for the first couple of years but at some point, you have to pay up. This year, and next, the Cowboys will be doing that. But yes, all teams have the same issues but they don't necessarily have the talent the Cowboys have had the last few years and with that so they don't have some of the big contracts this team has paid, and will pay. 

Patrik: A few things are equally true here. First, the salary cap has to be maneuvered by all 32 teams equally so, yes, it's normal business, in that aspect. Second, teams who typically draft exceptionally well end up with players that are worth second (and sometimes even a third) contract, and that's the crux of the issue in Dallas. Look at the names they've awarded new deals recently (Trevon Diggs, Donovan Wilson, Zack Martin again, etc.) and who they have coming due (Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons, etc.) and you'll notice a trend: they're all Cowboys' draft picks that hit big. When that happens, the cap battle becomes more challenging to manage, and that's what Dallas usually finds itself fighting against. Teams that draft poorly don't have such an issue, though they do have their own struggles in trying to mask those deficiencies by making it rain in free agency each year. So, yes, it's normal business and the main differences lie in ability to draft and develop and the comfort level of each owner/GM in how they work their cap magic annually. Now that I've explained all of that, here's the third truth: the Cowboys have gotten better in addressing free agency (e.g., Brandin Cooks, Stephon Gilmore, Malik Hooker) but I would also like to see a bit more aggression in the first two waves of the spree.

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