Cowboys’ $39 Million Veteran Deemed Potential Trade Casualty

The Dallas Cowboys could shed salary cap space by unloading this productive veteran.

In a list of “creative” ways to create more salary cap space, Bleacher Report mentions the idea of either trading or cutting veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks as one of three ways to do so. Cooks is about the enter the final year of his two-year, $39 million contract. The Cowboys can save $8 million by releasing Cooks after June 1.

“If the Cowboys must generate cap space to get extensions done, releasing wideout Brandin Cooks is an option,” writes Bleacher Report. “He was a serviceable No. 2 receiver last season, but releasing him after June 1 would save $8 million in cap space.”

Cowboys Lacking Depth Beyond Brandin Cooks and CeeDee Lamb

If the Cowboys had decent depth at wide receiver, the idea of unloading Cooks actually isn’t a bad one. However, Dallas also released former starting receiver Michael Gallup during the offseason, which means they only have two established veteran receivers on the roster in Cooks and CeeDee Lamb.

Bleacher Report mentions how the Cowboys’ receiving options after Cooks and Lamb aren’t exactly impressive with KaVontae Turpin, Ryan Flournoy and Jalen Brooks. Turpin has mainly served as a return specialist, Brooks caught just six balls during his rookie season and Flournoy is a rookie.

However, there are veteran free agent receiving options, including former Pro Bowlers such as Michael Thomas and Hunter Renfrow.

“The internal options for replacing Cooks—which include KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Brooks and rookie Ryan Flournoy—aren’t great. However, receivers like Hunter Renfrow, Michael Thomas, Randall Cobb and Richie James are available.”

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Cowboys Need to Create Salary Cap Space for Dak Prescott Contract

The main reason behind the Cowboys potentially creating cap space is for the new contract of quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott is on the verge of entering the final year of his contract and will likely command a new contract north of $50 million per year. For perspective, the Detroit Lions just signed franchise quarterback Jared Goff to a four-year, $212 million deal ($53 million per year).

According to Spotrac, Prescott’s market value is $50.9 million per year across four seasons for a total of $203.5 million.

While the Cowboys remain adamant that they want to get a new deal done to secure Prescott in Dallas, the longer they wait, the more they’ll likely have to pay.

It’s clear Dallas has been frugal when it comes to spending in free agency, with their only notable signings being linebacker Eric Kendricks and cheaper veteran options such as running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Royce Freeman. The Prescott deal is obviously the biggest priority for the Cowboys entering training camp; however, Dallas is also soon due to sign stars such as Lamb and linebacker Micah Parsons to new contracts.

While it’s true the Cowboys need to start worrying about re-signing their three biggest stars to new contracts, there are always ways to manipulate the salary cap — without releasing a key veteran — in order to create more space. Furthermore, the idea of releasing Cooks — who is coming off of a productive season with 54 catches for 657 yards and eight touchdowns — when the Cowboys are already lacking reliable options in the receiving games is just silly.

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Expect the Cowboys to keep Cooks around entering the 2024 season considering their lack of depth at the wide receiver position.


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