Austin On Dallas: Doug Free Decision Extends Beyond Starting RT

As the Dallas Cowboys await Doug Free’s decision to greatly reduce his 2013 salary, the lack of urgency attached to the choice is as curious as the decision itself.  Doug Free’s future with the Cowboys, or possible instant divorce, effects much more in 2013 than who will be the starting right tackle.

Let’s not forget, Dallas has been counting largely on 3 players (Tyron Smith, Doug Free, and Jermey Parnell) to hold down both starting tackle spots and both back-up roles.  And for the most part that’s been just fine as all 3 have experience playing left and right tackle.

However if Free gets the axe on June 1, not only will the starting nod fall to Parnell, but the back-up tackle rolls would be completely barren.  The Cowboys have yet to make a serious push at a free agent RT other than dropping a few names.  Clearly it was for effect only.



So let’s say Dallas is already content was starting Parnell.  That’s fine, except the team would now have to add a new swing tackle who can capably play both spots in relief. Honestly, they are still playing Russian Roulette at that point, as counting on only 3 mainly competent tackles to fill the starting spots and both back-up positions is a dangerous maneuver in itself.

Let’s say both tackles suffer a minor injury and are out for a few quarters of the same game. Or heaven forbid Tyron Smith went out for the season.  Now they’d have to find both a worthy starter and new back-up protection.

The point I’m making here is once again Jerry Jones is living dangerously at several spots.  And if even one went wrong (safety, RT, etc.), the entire season faces a huge risk of massive failure.



I’m not calling for a do-or-die pledge to keep Doug Free, not in the least.  I’m simply spotlighting the truth that Dallas needs to get this decision rolling and very soon.  If Free goes, then locating a capable free-agent RT becomes a must…even if Parnell was the leading RT. Someone has to play swing tackle, and well enough to not be a complete liability if forced into game action.

Expecting 2 tackles to stay upright for an entire season is absurd.  Nobody wants to lose a close game because the Cowboys failed to cover even the back-up tackle bases, and Orakpo blasts Tony Romo for the game-changing fumbled sack.   Standing with their feet in wet concrete this off-season while the rest of the league addresses weaknesses is beyond frustratingly old from my perspective.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Doug Free Jermey Parnell Tyron Smith

  • NVCowboy4Life

    IMHO,J Jones never had any intentions of cutting Free. A BIG if,but if Free can put together a couple of good games in pre-season and get some confidence back,he would be our best option anyway.

  • BradAustin

    I agree fully with you there, NV. The dead money to cut Free is too daunting for Jones to swallow. It symbolizes massive failure on his part. I fully believe JJ would be more willing to cross his fingers only to suffer another season at the hands of a mediocre RT position, than eat all that dead money in a clear indictment that he made a multi-million dollar misjudgment on Free.

    The reason why JJ is so toxic for Cowboys fans is that he is a double-edged sword. First he is just not a quality evaluator of football talent and prone to huge expensive miscalculations. Secondly, he carries an absurd amount of unwarranted pride that he is a top-level talent locater.

    Put those together and you get a guy who makes terrible, costly player decisions…and is also insanely too stubborn to change anything once it is proven he was grossly mistaken about a player’s ability.

    What other owner/gm had those exact 2 terminal qualities that resulted in the burying of a proud franchise….AL DAVIS. Sad but true.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    Free is lucky to be working for Jerry Jones. What other GM would give such a large contract after only one year of above average performance and then hang onto him a year later following a poor performance simply to save face? I hope Free realizes how fortunate he is and will take advantage of it.