The Cowboys created $10 million in 2014 cap space by converting $12.5 million of quarterback Tony Romo’s $13.5 million base salary into a signing bonus.
The move sets the stage for another restructuring in 2015.
With Romo’s cap number already due to be $25.2 million, the restructuring adds another $2.5 million, pushing the cap number to $27.7 million.
While the cap is expected to continue to go up in larger amounts than in the first two years of the current labor deal, $27.7 million will be a lot to carry for one play. Even if the cap shoots to $140 million, Romo will count for nearly 20 percent of the entire cap.
With a $17 million salary next year, the Cowboys can easily shrink the number again. If, for example, the Cowboys convert $15 million to a signing bonus and spread it over the five remaining years of the deal, the cap number will drop to $15.7 million.
In turn, that would increase the future cap numbers to $20.6 million for 2016, $24.5 million for 2017, $25 million for 2018, and $23.5 million for 2019.
Of course, Romo will be 39 by the time 2019 rolls around. At some point before then, Romo likely will call it quits (voluntarily or otherwise), and the Cowboys will assume a cap charge for any remaining bonus money that was kicked down the road this year and, inevitably, next year.