It’s no surprise to anyone who is following the Dallas Cowboys these days things are hard to predict. One week they look like a team that can win it all and then suddenly they seem to be contending to pick first in the NFL draft. The same applies for what owner and general manager Jerry Jones and what roster moves happen. Players that people think should be let go stay and sometimes the players you don’t want to leave get shipped out the door. Because of this, everything I write from here on out is a complete shot in the dark. Ready, set, go.
Starting right tackle Doug Free has been struggling and it’s not new news. Defensive ends that have anything that resembles speed find a way to make his, and Tony Romo’s life a nightmare. Eagle defensive end Brandon Graham spent a good amount of his time in the first half of last Sunday’s game in the backfield. The Doug Free of 2009 has been spotty at best. So what are the Cowboys to do?
Free signed a four-year, $32 million contract right before the 2011 season. The same season Free took a huge step back. Fans and analysts questioned the move as Free was constantly made to look like a fool on the left side as the Cowboys strugled to an 8-8 finish.
This past offseason Head coach Jason Garrett and Jones decided a move back to right tackle was the answer in wake of then rookie Tyron Smith’s suprising performace on the right side throughout the 2011 season. Scouts had Smith pegged as a franchise left tackle and so they switched. Problem solved right? Wrong.
Smith has a good reason for being inconsistant throughout this season. Being on the left side he sees more of the top-tier pass rushers and he is only in his second season. Free on the other hand should have only had a little bit of adjustment time for a guy with the size of contract he has. Twelve games later and he hasn’t been able to stay out of the spot light, and when I say spot light I am not reffering to the one people want to be in.
In response to my previous question of what should the Cowboys do with Free, here are a few senarios I can see happening. Pick your poison folks:
- The Cowboys could just wait it out- Maybe the switching back and forth between right and left tackle has taken its toll on Free and he just needs time to get his mind right. Who knows, but I can see the Cowboys giving him one more season on the right side in an effort to bring the stellar player out of him before they move him. If they go this route Free will probably be asked to take a pay cut or restructure his contact.
- Free could be moved again along the offensive line- Hear me out on this one. Free has decent mobility and speed. He might be better used at the guard position. The tackles can help hide some of the blatant holding penalties and he would be an assett pulling out into space in an effort to clear the outside for DeMarco Murray and company.
- Trade or cut him- This is what a lot of you want right? He’s struggling and you just want to cut ties and move on. I’d lie if I said I hadn’t thought this was a good idea. He will probably only yield a late-round pick if traded and if you cut him you’re looking at more dead money to deal with down the road. Along with the dead money the Cowboys are again looking for a quality tackle to take his place.
As I stated before, the Cowboys are so unpredictable that who knows what they’ll do with Free. This, like a lot of roster moves, is a wait-and-see proposition. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to the Doug Free saga.