Whether the Cowboys use the franchise tag on Dak Prescott or sign him, salary cap space will be the biggest hurdle

The offseason questions about whether Dak Prescott has a future with the Cowboys can officially begin Tuesday.

That’s the first day NFL teams can place a franchise tag on a player. Prescott and the Cowboys would like to reach a long-term deal, something that’s eluded them for two seasons.

Whether the Cowboys place a franchise tag on Prescott for the second consecutive year, costing them $37.7 million, or come to terms on a long-term deal, there is one thing slowing things up: salary cap space.

The Cowboys just don’t have it. At least for now.

There is an estimated $19.4 million in salary cap space, not enough to sign Prescott to a franchise tag or a long-term deal, and also sign draft picks and free agents.

It will all change in the coming weeks as the Cowboys begin the process of cutting and restructuring contracts of players.

Last year, the Cowboys restructured the contracts of left tackle Tyron Smith, right guard Zack Martin and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, creating nearly $27 million in salary cap space. A majority of that was part of a carryover into 2021 as the Cowboys anticipated a lower salary cap. The floor currently for the 2021 salary cap is $180 million. If that doesn’t change, that’s a reduction from the $198.2 million for the 2020 season.

If not for the coronavirus pandemic, causing reduced league-wide revenue, the salary cap would have increased by $10 million.…

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