Crunching the Numbers
Around the League is taking a look at each team's salary cap situation as we approach the start of training camp:
• Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
• Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
• Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
• Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
• Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
• Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
• Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
• 49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Morris Claiborne).
Best Bargain: Though his front-loaded contract extension from 2010 is believed to be the reason the Cowboys were docked $10 million in cap penalties over the next two seasons, it's pretty clear Miles Austin is the best bargain on Dallas' roster. With 14 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the first eight quarters of the season, Austin was well on his way toward a monster year before hamstring injuries limited him to 10 games on the season. Overall, Austin produced 43 receptions for 579 yards and seven touchdowns.
Healthy heading into 2012, Austin is set to earn just $1.15 million in base salary with a $2.721 million cap figure this season.
Potential Camp Casualty: Defensive end Kenyon Coleman started 15 games last season and is a favorite of Rob Ryan, but the team's cap situation, a potentially reduced role and a $1.9 million base salary in the final year of a two-year contract could threaten his roster spot. Dallas kept five defensive ends in 2011 and could do so again in 2012. Starter Jason Hatcher and 2012 third-round draft pick Tyrone Crawford are safe, while Coleman will compete with Sean Lissemore and Marcus Spears for the other starting job. If Coleman is fifth on the depth chart, his salary could be deemed too pricey for the limited snaps he'll be expected to see.
Contract Issue Looming In 2013: The 2012 season will determine the long-term futures of several former first-round draft picks in Dallas. Franchised outside linebacker Anthony Spencer is not going to receive a new deal before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, so he'll play out the season under the $8.856 million tag. To franchise him again next season would cost $10.627 million (120 percent his current tag), which is a large amount to pay an outside linebacker with limited pass-rushing totals.
The Cowboys' two first-round draft picks from the 2008 NFL Draft also will be looking for new deals next offseason. Running back Felix Jones has been surpassed on the depth chart by DeMarco Murray, and the Cowboys are unlikely to break the bank on a new contract for him. Same reasoning applies to Mike Jenkins, a 2009 Pro Bowl player who's now fourth on depth chart behind Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. That the Cowboys have not traded him to one of the interested parties (the Detroit Lions or Indianapolis Colts) remains a mystery.
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