The only out for the Dallas Cowobys in their whole right tackle situation involves either keeping limited faith in Doug Free and staying true to his expensive contract heading into next season, or releasing the disappointing player, using the cap space to bring on someone better, with the market still offering a couple of good options.
Free is due to make $7 million next season, and the Cowboys have been debating the future of the player with the team for quite some time, possibly too much time. There seems to be a specific issue for Jerry Jones about releasing players who are expensive and not quite up to the expectations from them, as this off-season showed us with Jay Ratliff and Miles Austin, both managing to keep their place on the team despite the advice to let them go.
The Cowboys want to keep Free, but cut his salary by more than 50%, which is something that it’s hard to believe Free will go for. He knows he won’t be able to keep his job at the current going rate, but losing that much money is too much to accept, knowing he still has some value on the open market.
The Cowboys might still keep him, hoping that what worked for the for the Carolina Panthers, as the reworked (ask for a reduction in salary) with Jordan Cross.
Cross should have been making $8.7 million next season, but the Panthers pushed him down to $5.5 million, a drop of 36% in wages, but still way above the veteran minimum, which is the worst case scenario for every player afraid of losing that huge contract he managed to sign.
A 36% reduction would mean $4.425 million in Doug Free’s case, which is till almost twice as high as what Tyson Clabo, a player the Cowboys were showing some interest in, got from the Miami Dolphins, getting him for around $4 million a season. If the Cowboys and Free work out their differences, it would still mean a high enough salary for Free to walk around with his head held high, while the Cowboys get around $2.5 million in cap relief.