2012 Salary Cap Update Post #107 - (08/21/2012) -- $5,137,214 under
After restructuring the contracts of Orlando Scandrick, Doug Free and Dez Bryant; releasing Terence Newman and David Buehler; and "borrowing" $1.5 million from a future salary cap, we entered the free-agency period $11,386,689 under the salary cap. Newman was designated a "post June 1" cut, so we won't get that $6.016 million of cap relief until June 2 -- in fact, cutting him actually cost us $390,000 of cap room for now, because another player's base salary was added to our top 51 when Newman was released. For now, Newman counts as $8.016 million in dead money. On June 2, that will drop to $2 million. So, one way to look at it is that we entered free agency $17,402,689 under the cap -- we just can't use $6.016 million of it until June 2 or later.
None of our signings have been processed by the league yet (it can take a few days when things are busy), but if the initial contract breakdowns are correct, we were $3,657,522 under the cap before signing Dan Connor but after signing Carr, Orton, Pool, Vickers and Bernadeau. If you want to include the Newman savings after June 2, we're "really" $9,673,522 under the cap.
Other than releasing players, the two main ways that we could gain more cap room, if we need it, would be to restructure DeMarcus Ware's contract (saving about $2.75 million) and to sign Anthony Spencer to a contract extension, lowering his cap number from $8.856 million to something less than $5 million, most likely.
Also, keep in mind the Top 51 Rule when we sign or release players in the offseason. This rule states that the only base salaries (or tenders) that count against the cap during the offseason are those of the current players (including unsigned players who were tendered) with the 51 highest cap numbers on the team. Anyone else's base salary does not count against the cap until after the final preseason cutdown. This means that if we sign a player whose 2012 cap number is $2 million, it doesn't use up $2 million of our current cap room -- that player's $2 million gets added to our cap, but he knocks another player out of our Top 51, so that player's base salary no longer counts against the cap. Right now -- after our first five free-agent signings, that is -- our 50th and 51st players' base salaries are $390,000 each (as are those of players 52-57). Our 40th-49th players' base salaries are $465,000 each. So, whatever Connor's 2012 cap number is, subtract $390,000 to see how much cap room we lose. If we sign or cut someone after that, it either knocks someone else out of the Top 51 or puts someone else back into the Top 51, so their base salary gets added or subtracted as necessary.