The Dallas Cowboys are $20 million over the salary cap, and that means they will have to handle free agency and contract negotiations very carefully and creatively this offseason.
One place Dallas will have to spend is a contract extension for quarterback Tony Romo. Cowboy team president Stephen Jones told 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas that the club has begun negotiations.
"We have a great quarterback and he deserves to be paid," Jones said. "We have a good quarterback and we want to reward him. He's in the last year of a contract, and our goal is to not let the quarterback run out of contract."
Yahoo!Sports was the first to report Jones’s statements. Jones also stressed Romo’s desire to win and his understanding of the Cowboys tight pockets.
"No one wants to win more, no one wants to have success more than Tony,” Jones said. “He knows, in order to do that, we have to manage our cap, and he plays a big part in that because the percentage of the cap that he takes."
Romo enters the final year of his contract, and will be a free agent after next season. His salary for the 2013 season is reportedly $16.8 million, but Dallas would like to bring that number down so they can get under the cap, and possibly avoid high-profile cuts that many teams are prone to do.
Romo ranks first all-time in passing touchdowns and second in passing yards in Dallas team history, and posted a career-high 4,903 passing yards and 19 interceptions in 2012. The Cowboys missed the playoffs for the third straight season, but still view Romo as their best bet for success.
Dallas, like Romo's agent, will keep their eyes on what kind of a deal Baltimore offers quarterback Joe Flacco. Romo hasn't captured a Super Bowl MVP like Flacco, but he was the most integral part of the Cowboys offense last season with no help from Dallas' last ranked running game.
The Cowboys will also have to work out a deal with linebacker Anthony Spencer, who was second on the team with 11.0 sacks last year. According to FOX Sports Southwest, Dallas will not use the franchise tag again on Spencer, since the cost will increase from $8.8 million to $10.6 million next season.
Still the Cowboys are aware of the 29-year-old's desire to stay in Dallas, a feeling his agent, Jordan Woy, told CBS Dallas is mutual.
“Anthony wants to stay here and the Cowboys smartly want to keep him,” Woy said. “Hopefully there will be some creativity available to get something done.”
Spencer picked up much of the slack for the injured DeMarcus Ware last season. Dallas is transitioning to a new 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and keeping last year's squad intact may help with the switch.