Most teams are about to enter free agency in the NFL with money available to chase players in hopes of improving. This is not the case for the Dallas Cowboys, who are technically over the salary cap of $133 million.
However, owner/general manager/ringleader Jerry Jones almost has the team below that ceiling, something which needs to be done by the time free agency begins on March 11. Jones has been a busy man, restructuring deals and cutting checks to make the money work.
Dallas restructured Tony Romo's contract, bringing his cap number from $21 million to $10 million this season, while also lowering the hits on linebacker Sean Lee and safety Orlando Scandrick, saving $6.8 against the cap between them, per ESPN.
Now, Jones wants defensive end DeMarcus Ware to take a pay cut. After dealing with injuries last season and only registering six sacks. the Cowboys are reluctant to pay Ware his scheduled $16 million in 2014. Should Ware refuse to take a reduced salary, Dallas is expected to release him, which would bring it under the salary threshold.
Steelers won't cut Polamalu
The Pittsburgh Steelers are another team with salary cap issues, but they won't be fixing them by cutting future Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu, according to ESPN. Polamalu had not been the same player in 2012 due to a variety of leg injuries, limiting him to seven games. In 2013, Polamalu bounced back and played every snap for Pittsburgh, amassing 69 tackles.
The team is currently working with Polamalu to lower his $10.88 cap number, either by restructure or pay cut. At 33 years old, Polamalu would likely be open to taking less money, knowing he won't make more elsewhere.
The former Cleveland Browns linebacker has visited the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos, and now has a list of only four teams of which to sign with. Jackson still has a visit planned with the Indianapolis Colts, after he was released by the Browns last week in a surprising move, putting him on the open market.
Jackson was a solid player as a captain in Cleveland last year, totaling 141 tackles. At 30 years old, Jackson will still command a decent salary and multiple years from the team that ultimately inks him.
Browner was reinstated by the NFL on Tuesday, putting the defensive back in position to hit free agency with the rest of his peers. Browner had been suspended for failing a drug test, reportedly for using marijuana. It was also widely reported that while in the CFL, Browner was missing mandatory NFL drug tests, elevating him into Level 3 of the NFL Drug Program.
It is unknown whether Browner will be suspended for part of 2014, something that could obviously hurt his value on the market. It will be intriguing to see if the Seattle Seahawks try to keep him or if they have moved on from the situation entirely.
Hester is a free agent, and it appears he will be leaving the Windy City. Hester, 31, has been with the Chicago Bears since his rookie year of 2006, becoming known as perhaps the most dangerous return man in NFL history, scoring 18 return touchdowns.
Without any interest coming from the Bears, Hester finds himself in a tough spot. Most of his value comes as a return man, but on the wrong side of 30 and without a history with the team, Hester might find it tough to get much in guarantees.
Seahawks, Tate not talking much
The Seahawks are yet to have conversations with wide receiver Golden Tate, who is slated to hit free agency on March 11, according to Pro Football Talk. Tate has expressed his desire to return, but talks have been slow in coming. Should he become available, he is one of the most accomplished receivers to be had alongside the Broncos' Eric Decker.
Tate had the best year of his career in 2013, catching 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns. Of course, he capped it off by helping Seattle win its first Super Bowl.
Jones unsure of future
Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones has long been speculated to be a goner once free agency rolls around. Instead, Jones says he believes the two sides still might be able to agree on a deal, per Pro Football Talk.
Jones has been a valuable member of the Packers throughout his seven-year career. Last season, Jones made 59 catches for a career-high 817 yards. In 2012, Jones caught 14 touchdowns to lead the Packers.
Revis moving his island?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be parting ways with corner Darrelle Revis after one season. Revis is scheduled to make $16 million next season, and apparently the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are interested in acquiring him, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Should Tampa Bay move him, it would save the $16 million against its cap. Any team taking Revis can convert his base salary into a signing bonus, basically lowering the cap hit to nil. If the Bucs are going to do it, the move will likely come before March 13 when he is due a $1.5 million roster bonus.
The Baltimore Ravens cut linebacker Jameel McClain last week, and now the Bills are hoping to capitalize. McClain, 28, would provide Buffalo with a middle linebacker to help move Kiko Alonso to the outside, something general manager Doug Whaley believes would be the right fit.
McClain has been a solid performer over his six-year career, and has overcome serious injury. In 2012, McClain suffered a bruised spinal cord and missed the Super Bowl triumph. He rebounded to play 10 games in 2013, amassing 52 tackles.
Bills ink Williams to extension
Buffalo made headlines Wednesday morning with the extension of safety Aaron Williams, per Pro Football Talk. After failing to sign safety Jairus Byrd to a deal, the Bills turned their attention to Williams and have paid him $26 million over four years with $14.625 million guaranteed.
Williams came into the league as a cornerback but switched to safety last year, racking up four interceptions and 82 tackles in 14 games.