The Dallas Cowboys have not yet begun the exhaustive process of getting under the 2022 NFL salary cap, for which the team is approximately $22 million in the hole with 16 days to go until the start of free agency.
Leading up to March 16, the Cowboys will finesse and massage its roster, restructuring bloated contracts and outright cutting players in order to pay others. Potentially falling into the latter camp is veteran cornerback Anthony Brown, whom Pro Football Focus recently billed as a release candidate.
“The Cowboys drafted two outside cornerbacks with top-100 picks in 2021, including No. 44 overall pick Kelvin Joseph, whose debut was delayed due to some minor injuries,” PFF’s Brad Spielberger wrote on February 22. “Nonetheless, he finally got some run to close out the season and looked the part, earning a 71.2 overall grade and 73.0 coverage grade on 165 snaps at the tail end of the season. He also recorded two pass breakups on 15 targets.
“With several big-name pending free agents, including wide receiver Michael Gallup, tight end Dalton Schultz and edge defender Randy Gregory among others, Dallas needs to cut costs wherever it can. Brown played a career-high 1,046 snaps while his 69.0 coverage grade was his best to date, but Dallas may have in-house replacements ready to go, making Brown a true ‘cap casualty.'”
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Would-Be Cap Ramification
A 2016 sixth-round draft pick, Brown has spent his first six seasons with the Cowboys, posting 282 combined tackles (227 solo), 52 pass deflections, nine interceptions, and four forced fumbles across 82 career games (57 starts).
The 28-year-old made 16 regular-season appearances in 2021; he notched 71 tackles, broke up 17 passes, and picked off three balls in his coverage. He graded out as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 39 CB among 80 qualifiers.
Brown is slated to enter the final season of his $15.5 million contract, inked in 2020. If untouched, he’ll take home $5 million in base salary and count $6.5 million against the cap, per OverTheCap.com.
By releasing Brown — either pre- or post-June 1 — the Cowboys would create $5 million in cap savings and leave behind only $1.5 million in dead money.
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Wilson Linked to Jaguars
Lumped in with the Cowboys’ 21 unrestricted free agents is wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, whom Bleacher Report deemed an ideal fit for the Jacksonville Jaguars, they of $56 million of cap flexibility, third-most in the league.
“Wilson would be a wonderful addition for the Jaguars, who have their quarterback in Trevor Lawrence but an underwhelming supporting cast,” BR’s Kristopher Knox wrote on February 28. “Marvin Jones Jr. led Jacksonville with only 832 receiving yards, while the Jaguars ranked 27th in pass yards per attempt.
“In Jacksonville, Wilson could be exactly the sort of reliable slot target who can aid Lawrence’s development and add some potency to the passing game.”
Wilson, 26, is projected to land a three-year, $19.39 million deal — $6.4 million annually — on the open market, according to Spotrac.com.
“Wilson provided a quarterback rating of 130.6 when targeted,” Knox wrote. “Teams should view Wilson as a high-end slot receiver and a potential free-agent steal.”