Doug Free was the first Cowboy seen at Valley Ranch today. No doubt, Jerry didn’t let him leave the building without a lengthy discussion. They probably even did some negotiating. Much has been made about the Cowboys’ need to re-sign Doug Free and rightfully so. He was their best offensive lineman last season and he’s only twenty-seven. They have made no secret about the fact that bringing him back is their number one priority this week.
Earlier today, the Cowboys cleared a pretty significant amount of cap space by cutting a series of overpriced veterans. That was the first step in creating room for Free. Money shouldn’t be a problem. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be a bigger obstacle. According to Pro Football Times and Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports, the Bucs have become a suitor of Doug Free. Unlike the Cowboys, the Bucs don’t have to clear cap space to sign Doug Free. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Tampa is so far underneath the cap that they will have to go on a spending spree just to get within the minimum spending limits in the new CBA. This is exactly why the minimum spending rules were such a big get for the players. Guys like Free are set to cash in because of the need to spend some cash.
At this point, there are probably more teams than just the Bucs involved in the discussion, but it’s all speculation. For all we know, Free may have no interest in leaving Dallas. The other problem with the Free negotiations dragging out is that it probably somewhat affects the Cowboys plans for the rest of the week. If they can’t re-sign Free, they’ll have money to spend elsewhere, but, obviously, time is of the essence.
You have to think that the Cowboys are kicking themselves for not slapping the franchise tag on Free. That may turn out to be an enormous mistake.