The Cowboys may have made an enormous mistake not franchise tagging LT Doug Free

Doug Free a hotter ticket than Nnamdi Asomugha? Maybe.

Four months ago, I wrote on Bleeding Green Nation that the Cowboys may have gaffed by not making it a 100% certainty that Doug Free will remain a Cowboy in 2011.  The Cowboys instead opted to place a restricted free agent tender on Free, but with reports today that all 4th, 5th, and 6th year players will likely become eligible for unrestricted free agency, any restricted FA tags would basically void.  This is a potential disaster for the Cowboys, as Free, with 4 years of NFL service, would be able to test the market, and the market will undoubtedly be hot for his services.

Bad OL play has become an epidemic in the NFL in recent years, and there are no shortage of teams that will be licking their chops to sign a good young LT like Free.  Consider the A-list group of pass rushers Free faced in 2010.  Now consider that Free only gave up 5 sacks last season, and Free could be the hottest commodity in the league.  Name pretty much any team in the NFL, and you can make a case that Doug Free would make that team better.  Call me crazy, but based upon the position he plays as well as age considerations, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Free generates more interest league-wide than the crown jewel of this free agent class, Nnamdi Asomugha.

(Cont after the jump)…

The Cowboys are in big, big trouble here.  Their OL was awful in 2010, as their poor play contributed to their surprise 6-10 season.  RT Marc Colombo was dinged up early and had a wretched season.  He may be done in Dallas with the selection of rookie OT Tyron Smith.  Ditto that for Leonard Davis, who was benched at one point during 2010.  LG Kyle Kosier battled injuries for most of 2010 and also had a down year.  C Andre Gurode made the Pro Bowl again, but mainly because center is an extraordinarily weak position across the entire NFC.  Hell, Shaun O’Hara of the Giants made the Pro Bowl at center despite missing half the season and playing poorly when he was actually able to go.  And oh by the way, Gurode turned 32 in March, and the other 2 Cowboys returning starting offensive linemen will be 33 by the end of the 2011 season, and the Cowboys’ depth is shaky, at best.  Losing their best and only young proven offensive lineman (Free just turned 27 in January) would be an absolute disaster.

Somewhere, Doug Free’s agent is smiling ear to ear.  Free is going to get bigtime LT money, be it from the Cowboys or elsewhere.  Jerry Jones rolled the dice, and if there’s any truth to the reports that 4th year guys are free to shop their services, it’s either going to cost him his left tackle or a boatload of cash and cap space.

17 Comments

  1. [...] one, two and three were to sign Doug Free.  I had been destroying Jerry Jones all offseason for not franchise tagging Doug Free when they had the chance way back in February, but they were able to get Free re-signed as a [...]

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  4. norman says:

    Doesn’t someone as versitile as Free make him a good idea in New York? Along a starting offensive line that is pretty old and at injury risk, he seems to me a great choice.

    Fits better there than Philly, imo. Does NYG have a history of free agent linemen?

    1. He’d be a fantastic addition for the Giants. They could stick him at LT, slide Diehl over to LG, slide Seubert in at C, and put Shaun O’Hara out to pasture. However, they probably won’t have the cap space to make a serious play for a guy like Free, who’s going to get paid boucoup dollars.

  5. James says:

    I would love love love to get Free. our offensive line woes would finally be over and there wouldn’t be as much need to worry about whether or not vick will get injured again this season. if we did get Free what do you think would happen with Justice? what do you think we would get for him in a trade?

    1. Good question. At best a 3 to a desperate team, but probably more like a 4-6.

  6. Tracer Bullet says:

    The Eagles NEED a RCB, but they could use a RT. Is it worth signing Free for big money, considering that he would be protecting Vick’s blind side, even if it means passing on Asomugha? Does the opportunity to cripple the Cowboys enter into it?

      1. Tracer Bullet says:

        It would be great to have him, but I think they’d have to go with Asomugha if forced to chose. Justice/Dunlap are serviceable at RT. There is no proven RCB on the roster. Signing Free and Jonathan Joseph might be the best case scenario, but Joseph keeps saying he wants to stay in Cincinnati.

    1. D3Keith says:

      I don’t know that you make moves specifically to cripple other teams, but that can be an added bonus.

      Either way this is good for us. If Dallas has to pay extra for Free, that’s less they can throw at NA, JJ or some other CB.

      This offseason flurry is going to be awesome.

      1. Yup, can’t wait. I’m almost a little scared of how hard to keep up with everything it’ll be, and whether or not I’ll be busy at work. But it’s going to be insane. There are so many intriguing players out there it’s sick.

      2. Bill Ward says:

        “Good for us”? Dude, this is supposed to be an NFC EAST blog. Therefore, there is no “us” that a bad Cowboy team is good for among the presumed readers. If Jimmy wants to regress back to being a Philly Phan Phite, then your comment is fine.

        Me, I’m a Redskins fan… and I’m smart enough to smirk at the constant references to Vick (besides knowing just what kind of quality human being he is, since he’s a local boy).

        Regression to the Mean…. learn it Philly fans. I also realize that the Cowboys, too, will regress to the mean to some extent, which means they’ll improve overall, too.

        Oh, and Philly has not traditionally been a big player in the FA sweepstakes that Washington and Dallas play…. you folks might expect ONE big FA this year; thinking two or more is unrealistic with your front office.

        1. The Eagles get aggressive in free agency – they just don’t go crazy every year. They signed Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse to big deals the same offseason – They were considered the top 2 FA’s that year. They signed Asante Samuel, arguably the biggest name the offseason he came to Philly. They traded for Jason Peters and signed him to a huge deal. Those a just a few examples.

          While their splurging pales in comparison to the Redskins, the Eagles will most certainly spend if there are players they like.

          1. Bill Ward says:

            TRADED… different from persuing FAs.

            The only year (ONLY) year that I can think of where Philly went after more than one big name FA was Owens and Kearse. Yes, they’ll go after a name guy every once in a while, but not more than one typical big name FA every couple years. Trades, yes, they do that, and fairly well. They also have been good (very good, at times) with the Draft and even decent with UDFAs. They tend to be active with the second/third tier FAs. But the top FAs? No, they typically look for better value than sucking down huge amounts on a couple of FAs, when they can get four or five for the same Cap.

            IOW, stop drooling over the idea of multiple top tier FAs… Philly almost never plays that game. If you’re going to say that, it’s much more likely (historically, at least) that the Redskins would pull that move…. and they FAs would be busts, of course.

            1. Trades aren’t really any different. The point is they went out brought in a bigtime player. The only difference is that they had to also give up a few picks.

              I think the Eagles are going to very aggressive players in the free agent market this year, not because I personally want them to, but because of the circumstances. The Eagles have under $100 million allocated to toward their salaries this year, and have plenty of room financially to make some moves. They have certain holes on their roster that line up perfectly with some of the bigger name players available. They think they can win… now. And most importantly, they’ve come out multiple times and SAID they’re going to be very aggressive. That’s the rationale, not some blind fandom.

              1. Tracer Bullet says:

                C’mon, Jimmy. If anybody knows how to successfully work free agency it’s the Redskins. Let’s just absorb Bill’s wisdom.

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