Dallas Cowboys restructure Lee, Scandrick deals

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AT&T Stadium

We should take a moment to recognize the fact that Jerry Jones was at the Oscars last night.

Seriously, what?

Anyway, as his team prepares for the 2014 season, Jones has taken the first steps in getting his team under the generous $133 million salary cap by restructuring the contracts of Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick, according to Fox Sports contributor Mike Garafolo.

The team has converted some base salary into a signing bonus, which both players will receive up front. This will allow the team to prorate the money across the length of the contracts.

Restructured contracts are usually a win for every party involved. Lee and Scandrick have their money immediately, and the team gets some salary cap relief, in this case $8.5 million worth. That’s $3.75 million for Scandrick and $4.75 million for Lee, no small chunk of change.

Cornerback Scandrick just signed a two-year extension in November, probably with the understanding that it would need to be restructured this offseason. Lee, of course, just signed a big-money, long-term deal early last season, making him one of the team’s best-compensated players.

On the Dallas Cowboys, signing a long-term contract basically comes with the renegotiations understood. It’s a situation not unique to Dallas, but one the Cowboys have used–and abused–perhaps better than anyone.

The Cowboys have made small moves already in their efforts to get under the cap. They will reportedly release defensive end Everette Brown and center Phil Costa, neither of whom represent a significant subtraction after last season.

Couple that with the expected post-June 1 cut of Miles Austin and the likely restructuring of Tony Romo’s deal, and the Cowboys should have little trouble getting under the cap.

The biggest issue, of course, lies with DeMarcus Ware. Obviously no one at Valley Ranch is anxious to see him leave, but fewer are anxious to see him overpaid and perpetually injured.

Dallas is in no rush to make such an important decision, and will likely see how far it can get by restructuring other deals before it works on Ware’s situation.

Today’s restructurings mean that Dallas has already cut half its over-the-cap expenses, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. This is good news for a team that started the offseason on much more uncertain terms.

It remains to be seen as to whether the ‘Boys will have enough flexibility to bring back someone like Jason Hatcher—a talented free agent that the team might be able to replace with a successful draft and a little luck.

Anthony Spencer is another name that comes to mind as a player the Cowboys might want to bring back. He’s had injury problems, but that can be said of the entire Dallas defense. The team might re-sign him at the right price.

Whether it be Spencer, Hatcher or someone else, the team’s best bet is to get as far as possible under the cap and get the needed flexibility to make a small free-agent splash—a signing that might make the difference between 8-8 and 9-7. In other words, all the difference in the world.