The Dallas Cowboys took the final steps to get under the 2014 salary cap Friday with the release of center/guard Phil Costa and the altering of guard Mackenzy Bernadeau’s contract.
The Cowboys saved $1.5 million by cutting Costa. Bernadeau was due to make $2.75 million in base salary next season. The Cowboys lowered his base salary for 2014, but put guarantees in his contract to recoup some of the money, according to a source.
Considering the Cowboys were less than $600,000 over the salary cap of roughly $134.25 million, the moves were more than enough to meet the targeted number.
The Cowboys needed to be in compliance by the start of free agency Tuesday.
The moves concluded a whirlwind week in which the cap-strapped Cowboys cleared roughly $20 million in cap room, led by the restructuring of contracts for quarterback Tony Romo, linebacker Sean Lee and cornerback Orlando Scandrick, which cleared nearly $17 million alone.
The Cowboys can gain about $5.5 million in cap room with the expected release of receiver Miles Austin. And the Cowboys still have a decision to make on defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Ware doesn’t want to take a pay cut, but will listen to the Cowboys’ thoughts about a reduced deal, according to a source.
He also hopes for a quick resolution.
The Cowboys informed Ware and representatives earlier this week about their need to lower his salary and cap figure for next year by either a pay cut or a release from the roster.
Ware is due a base salary of $12.25 million in 2014 with a salary cap hit of $16 million. The Cowboys would save $7.8 million if they cut Ware.
However, the Cowboys say they want the team’s all-time sack leader back next season, but at a reduced salary, noting his age, declining numbers and injury history.
Ware turns 32 in July and recently underwent surgery for a second consecutive off-season. He had a career-low six sacks last season when he was hampered by neck, quad and elbow injuries.
Ware expects a return to his dominant ways after having surgery last month to repair nerve damage in his right elbow last month. He also remains hesitant about a major reduction in salary, according to a source.
No deadline has been given, but a quick decision would be best for both sides, the source said.