And it's not why you think. Wasting 10.6m in cap space was worse than signing him to a long term deal. If they had signed him to a 5/40m deal with 17m guaranteed they could have saved 5.6m on the cap last year and rolled it over to this year. He would only have 6m in dead money left after 2014, but would be under contract for 2014-2017. Year Salary SB Cap Hit 2013 3m 2m 5m 2014 4m 2m 6m 2015 7m 2m 9m 2016 7m 2m 9m 2017 9m 2m 11m It basically gives the team a "free" year in 2014 and plenty of options to keep him if he is still producing or dump him if he isn't. Obviously he would have had to agree to the deal and that may have been the sticking point. But this is more about the franchise tag in general. I think it is a terrible strategy when it the salary is that high. It removes any maneuverability and the player is still a FA after the season. Either work out a long term deal or let him walk. For 10.6m in cap space the Cowboys could have signed 3-4 FAs last year. It applies to Hatcher this year. Franchising him would be the worst option. Either try to sign him a 4 or 5 year team friendly deal or let him walk.