After pondering between keeping Doug Free or trying to sign one of the veteran right tackles offered on the market, the Dallas Cowboys decided to keep the expensive yet disappointing player who they have been overpaying for quite sometime, but only after cutting his salary by half. Now, they’re already thinking how to avoid paying him any further after the 2013 season is over.
Free should have been making $8 million in 2013, but he knew that unless the agreed to the paycut the Cowboys were offering, he would have been released, with Eric Winston and others waiting in line to take his job. So Free’s salary was reduced to around $3.5 million , but that doesn’t mean he is suddenly going to become a better player just because of the threat of being cut is hanging over his head.
In 2013, he’ll have a chance to prove he’s worthy of keeping around for more than just one season. Free has been moved around from right tackle, to left and back again, playing in all 16 games over the past four seasons, but last year was one huge disappointment, and few believed the Cowboys will stick with the player beyond 2012.
And yet, the Cowboys, specifically Jerry Jones, have shown they have a problem parting with players they should probably cut: Jay Ratliff, Miles Austin and others have been kept around, some of them without even reworking their deals to make them more appropriate to their most recent contribution. Sentimentality is good; team loyalty is good, but when it doesn’t bring you into the postseason for three consecutive seasons, something needs to be done about the decision making.
The future situation with Free, according to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com: If Free plays the next two seasons, then he will count $3.98 million against the cap in 2015. If the Cowboys cut Free before the fifth day of the 2014 league year and designate him a post-June 1 cut, then he would count $3.02 million against the cap in 2014 and $3.98 against the cap in 2015. If they chose not to put a June 1 designation on the cut, then the move would cost the Cowboys roughly $500,000 in room.
Unless Free provides to be one massive revelation in 2013 and becoming an impassable tackle, it’s hard to believe he’ll be sticking around for much longer. However, these are the Cowboys, so you never know.