'How Can Cowboys Pay Dak, Zeke, Amari & Jamal?' (Here's How)

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - There are a lot of reasons to conclude that New York Jets All-Pro safety Jamal Adams will not be allowed to realize his dream - a trade to his ideal destination, his hometown Dallas Cowboys.

But an inability to figure out "how the Cowboys are gonna pay Jamal Adams, and Dak Prescott, and Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper'' is not one of those reasons.

That "inability'' angle is the assessment from ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, and while it fits a line of thinking that often comes from the casual observer (often one screaming "Cap Hell!''), the question is, is it a line of thinking that comes from any qualified NFL capologist?

Says Schefter with on his podcast: "I'm thinking about all the Cowboys fans who want to see them trade for Jamal Adams. How do you think the Cowboys are gonna pay Jamal Adams, and Dak Prescott, and Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper?

"It's not realistic, it's not practical.''

We will gently suggest Schefter is wrong on at least two of his three assertions.

1) Is a Jamal Adams trade to Dallas "realistic''? As we've covered here in great depth, no blockbuster trades start out as "realistic.'' The odds of any 24-year-old All-Pro who is under contract for two more seasons with their existing employer being dealt are low.

So Adams' anger at the Jets and his "I'm tryin', bro!'' passion for the Cowboys aside, earth-shaking trades are, at least in their infancy, never "realistic.''

2) Is a Jamal Adams trade to Dallas "practical''? We're not quite sure what Schefter means here. Whether it's "practical'' to give up a certain amount of capital in trade will be up to the Cowboys (and any other bidder). Last October, Dallas offered a first-round pick and a starting-caliber player. It would certainly be "practical'' to offer the same. On the flip side, the reason we know the La'el Collins rumor to be false - well, besides the fact that an NFL source told us so - is that there would be a substantial financial penalty against the cap for Dallas to trade him.

So Collins being traded is absolutely "impractical.''

Indeed, if one believes that Adams is the "tipping point'' of power in the NFC (and we do think that; envision him joining the Eagles instead of the Cowboys and maybe you'll see it, too), it's highly "practical'' to explore a costly trade.

3) Is a Jamal Adams trade to Dallas "affordable''? We will acknowledge this: COVID-19 has created great uncertainty regarding the NFL's 2021 salary cap. The assortment of high-priced talent mentioned by Schefter - Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper (and others, including DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, La'el Collins and Jaylon Smith) have guaranteed money in 2021. In the event of the cap not increasing next year, those contracts could not be eliminated. Nor, obviously, could Adams'. (He's presently scheduled to make $3,590,292 this year and $9.86 million in 2021, but would at some point be receiving a massive contract extension from Dallas in the event of a trade.)

That arrangement would make the 2021 Cowboys roster ridiculously top-heavy (and in the event of a stagnant cap, cause Dallas to have to toss tons of talented, non-guaranteed players overboard.) But you know what else "that arrangement'' would do? It would make the 2020 Cowboys roster ridiculously loaded. And depending on how new contracts for Prescott (shrinking from $31.409 mil) and Adams (now set to make just that $3.5 million) were structured, it would all fit neatly under a 2020 cap that presently sports $11 mil in room.

The Cowboys have spent big money on big players. It's odd to now register a complaint about something that should be celebrated. And as it relates to the affordability of Jamal Adams? Once we get beyond the highly-challenging "how realistic?'' hurdle, the hurdles of "cost'' are - as long as the 2020 season Super Bowl is the goal - not insurmountable.