The Cowboys restructured Ezekiel Elliott’s contract in an easy way to make room for the 2021 season.
Sources told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that Dallas turned $8.6 million of Elliott’s $9.6 million base salary for the 2021 season into a signing bonus. This frees up $6.88 million in cap room, Pelissero said.
Restructuring is a standard move that every team makes to free up cap money. It happens a lot more in COVID seasons because teams keep putting things off. The bonus is spread out over the remaining years of the contract as part of the accounting answer. This lowers the cap number in the present.
The restructuring gives the Cowboys $12 million in cap space for 2021, which is more than enough to handle the usual trades that happen every year. It could also give Dallas some breathing room if they want to move for a more expensive player at some point during the season. Or, the Cowboys could be thinking ahead and looking to roll over cap space into next season, when it’s still not expected to fully recover to pre-COVID standards.
Over The Cap says that the move brings Zeke’s 2022 cap number up by $1.72 million to $18.22 million, but since his salary for next year was already set, the small raise doesn’t make much of a difference for Dallas in the big picture. The Cowboys could get out of Elliott’s deal as early as 2023, but it would still cost them $11.86 million in “dead money.”