For the past few days, the biggest question mark with the Dallas Cowboys has been what to do with right tackle Doug Free? Free was one of the worst players at his position last season and yet he has one of the highest salaries on the Cowboys roster. Free isn’t nearly worth the over $10 million the Cowboys owe him this year so the question remains, what does Dallas do with Free?
I don’t think there is a right answer because the Cowboys and Free are in a no win situation. According to multiple reports, Free has been asked by the team to take a pay cut but he’s been reluctant to do so. The team wants to reduce his salary to possibly make room on the roster for Eric Winston. Why would Free want to give up money and likely lose his starting spot on the Cowboys offensive line? From his perspective, it doesn’t make any sense.
On the other hand, the Cowboys have the option to just release Free now and designate it as a June 1 cap hit and spread Free’s cap number over two seasons. It would force Free into a free agent market where he would get significantly less money to play somewhere else. That sounds all well and good but it doesn’t help the Cowboys salary cap now since they wouldn’t free up that money until June 1, which does no good since Winston will probably be signed by another team at that time. So for those of you wondering why the Cowboys just don’t release the struggling player now, it’s because it won’t help the team at all.
Talk about a no win situation. There’s also a theory the Cowboys want Free to take a pay cut, then Dallas would sign Winston and move Free to guard and have him compete for starting spot there. I just don’t see that happening since Free began his career at guard and wasn’t any good at that position either. He’s just not strong enough to play inside where defensive linemen will overpower him.
So what can the Cowboys do? In every situation there is usually a compromise and in this case the compromise is to take the pay cut but it appears that Free has no intention of doing that. The only other options are to cut Free or to keep him, at least until June 1. In an offseason that has gone well for the Cowboys, this is a major obstacle for the team.
Doug Free remains a Cowboy, for now, but Dallas has to make decision on how long they want to keep it that way.