Do the Dallas Cowboys have a salary structure problem?

In today’s NFL, many factors go into whether or not your franchise is a viable championship contender. Every aspect of your organization needs to be on point for your team to experience lasting success. Defining where the Dallas Cowboys fit into this discussion is often frustrating at best.

Some of these elements are obvious. A top-notch coach, great players (especially at quarterback) and a shrewd front office are probably the most important facets.

Some of these elements are extremely tangible. You know you have a great coach when it’s obvious that your players are playing hard every game, no matter what, and are becoming regular contributors.

A great coach is also at the top of his profession when he can adapt from week to week and, more so, from quarter to quarter of the game that is unfolding at the moment. When it comes to the players, their performance, especially at the game’s most important moments, is clearly the most tangible across all factors.

For the front office, one of the key attributes of success is how it handles the salary cap. Depending on who you talk to or your personal opinion, the salary cap is either something to be very aware of, or it’s basically a myth.

What is, unfortunately, a harsh reality is that the cap tends to be a major reason for the lack of success when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. This statement made me wonder whether or not the Dallas Cowboys had a salary structure problem.

Now, having a salary structure problem is obviously different from having a salary cap problem. Not so long ago, the Cowboys had both problems. For years and years they would have dead money on the books that would seemingly never end.

For the most part, these problems have disappeared. Heading into the 2021 season, just over $8 million of their total $10.8 million in dead pay is due to two career-ending injuries that were beyond their control. No, Dallas’ problem has to do with their structure.

More than half of the entire Dallas Cowboys cap is invested in just seven players. At first glance, that might not seem like too big of an issue, especially since the money goes to a defensive end (DeMarcus Lawrence), a quarterback (Dak Prescott) and two offensive linemen (Zack Martin and Tyron Smith).

These four players have either earned Pro Bowl selections or been named All-Pro at some point in their careers. Allocating money to big talent is fine, however, so much money being at the top means there isn’t much money for a large majority of your team.

It’s been an essential part of how the Dallas Cowboys do business. This is probably something that should be considered changing as soon as possible. Recently, built, in their view, the best team money can buy. As you can imagine, no one with a star on their helmet was chosen.

Now, before you think there’s some “hate” towards the Dallas Cowboys, let me assure you, looking at their wages via, it’s pretty easy to see why this team was left out. What might be even more worrying than having no one on this legendary team is that only one player, receiver Michael Gallup, was even briefly considered.

This means that among the highest paid players on this team, there is someone else on another team who has similar ability but is paid much less worthy of a place. Perhaps even more surprisingly, this also means the Cowboys employ neither a “middle-range” money-making player or a “cheap” player who could make such a team.

Obviously, this is only one person’s opinion, however, it is something that should at least be inspected further. That in no way stops the Dallas Cowboys from succeeding in 2021. It’s interesting though that the perennial “good teams” are all represented by at least one player, if not several.

William M. Mayer