When the Dallas Cowboys selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin with their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, they also jump-started a chain of events that will most likely find one Cowboy veteran on the outs in 2015. Despite performing well in 2013, offensive guard Doug Free will be the player most effected by the grand entrance of Martin. NFL.com actually choose Free as one of fifteen NFL veterans most hurt by the draft. Here’s their explanation:
“Free had a bounceback season in 2013. One local report suggested Free could get a contract extension if the team doesn’t take a tackle in the draft. First-round pick Zack Martin could play guard as a rookie, then replace Free at right tackle next year. Or Free will get stuck moving to guard — hurting his long-term value — this year. Either way, that long-term extension for Free seems unlikely.”
Pro Football Focus ranked Free the fifth best right tackle in football last season. But he was also the most penalized lineman in the NFL the year before. Last offseason, Free was threaten with release from the Cowboys unless he took a pay-cut that split his paycheck in half. Now, the former fourth round pick out of Northern Illinois is in the final year of that new prorated contract. Whether Dallas choices to extend Free this year will most likely be up to him and his price tag.
But with Martin in the mix, the eight-year veteran will likely play out the rest of his contract this season and become a free agent in 2015. It’s unclear as of yet if Free will make the move to guard this offseason to accommodate the first round pick. Regardless, Dallas seems poised to have one of the youngest and best offensive lines in the NFL this season. And for years to come, with or without Free.