It’s been nearly a month since the Dallas Cowboys asked overpaid right tackle Doug Free to take a pay cut. Put simply, time is up.
The Cowboys gave Free an ultimatum: he can either take a pay cut or become a free agent as one of Dallas’ post-June 1 roster cuts. Sure, it’s a big decision, but it’s been over three weeks, and it’s not like the Cowboys owe Free anything. In fact, they should have presented him with a non-negotiable pay cut offer and forced him to make a decision on the spot. This little game is ridiculous and it could cost the Cowboys in free agency.
If Free leaves as a post-June 1 cut, it will save the Cowboys $7 million in cap space as Free is currently scheduled to count $10.02 million against the cap this year. And Dallas doesn’t have to wait until June 1 to make the move, either; Marcus Spears was let go as a post-June 1 cut in mid-March and has already signed with the Baltimore Ravens. So the Cowboys could go ahead and part ways with Free now and still have plenty of time to use that extra cap space to sign a free agent offensive tackle like Tyson Clabo or Eric Winston. In fact, Dallas would be foolish not to cut Free now and sign one of those veterans.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones says the team wants Free to come back, but Dallas would be much better off getting rid of him and bringing in a veteran who won’t be a question mark at the right tackle spot. Even if Free takes a pay cut, that doesn’t mean his play will improve, despite the fact he was better toward the end of the 2012 season after he started splitting time with Jeremy Parnell.
But why risk that again? Why pay a guy less to continue to play at a below-average level when an every-down starter is available on the open market? Free better make a decision soon or Dallas should make it for him before it’s too late.