The Dallas Cowboys' loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round remains one of the biggest topics in NFL circles. Once again, one of the league's most storied franchises failed to reach the conference championship game - they have failed to do so every year since 1996.
The Cowboys' roster construction has been discussed ad nauseam since the elimination. Many fans believe that Dallas can't win a Super Bowl with how much they're currently paying quarterback Dak Prescott, who's signed a four-year, $160 million contract that runs up to 2025.
Obviously, paying Prescott that much makes it more difficult to sign other superstars in free agency because of the salary cap. Micah Parsons has chimed in on the issue, noting how, with the exception of the NFL's best quarterback, every other team playing this Sunday has an advantage in the salary cap:
Since the rookie salary scale was introduced with the 2011 CBA, quarterbacks in their first signed contracts are way cheaper. If you can have a young quarterback playing at a high level while he's still on his first contract, you can use the money to bolster the roster around him and become a strong contender.
Dak Prescott's 2023 contract is Cowboys' biggest headache
The cap has been a hot topic in Dallas. With Prescott slated to cost $49,130,000 in 2023, it is virtually impossible to trade or release him with an $89M dead cap for the 2023 season.
The Cowboys have just under a million available in the 2023 payroll. They can't do anything about Prescott's contract because of the dead cap with it. The best they can do is hope that Dak goes back to his best form and leads the team better than he did in 2022.
List of 2023 Cowboys free agents
Some important players will become free agents for Dallas when March comes up, and there's little the team can do about it as they have limited space in the salary cap to re-sign them.
On offense, RB Tony Pollard and TE Dalton Schultz are the two biggest names they're at risk of losing. The two players should receive big offers on the market and play for other teams in 2023.
While they should lose some depth on defense, the only important name they're in danger of losing is LB Leighton Vander Esch. He returned to his best level in the previous two years and was essential to the team's excellent 2022 defense. Losing him would be a big problem.
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