IRVING, Texas - With so many expected free agents, including two of the best offensive players in football, the Cowboys have plenty of questions to answer here this offseason.
Some of them will be answered here before the start of the free-agent signing period on March 10. Others might take a few more weeks, and perhaps after the draft.
For now, DallasCowboys.com has come up with 10 pressing questions the Cowboys are facing this offseason and writers Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Nick Eatman will try their best to answer them, giving a forecast of what could happen here in what should be an entertaining offseason.
Today's question focuses on the Cowboys' decision at right tackle.
What Should Cowboys Do At Right Tackle Position?
Bryan: Of all the free agent questions we have answered here on DallasCowboys.com this one is by far the easiest for me to handle, there is no question it's Doug Free. You can talk about age and the potential upside with Parnell but that does nothing for me right now. Where Free helps me is not only what he does on the field but in that offensive line meeting room. Those young players look to him for his leadership and direction. He sets the tone for the group and as a unit they feed off that. I recall a stretch of games this season starting in St Louis and ending at home against the Giants where they faced some serious fronts and not only were they able hold things together but also to play at a very high level in the process. Free is at the point of his career where he can give this club two to three more years of productive football which can allow this front office to consider other options than what they current have with Parnell. As crazy as this might sound, I would rank the re-signing of Doug Free as the second most important off season move for how it affects this offense.
Nick:As talented as the offensive line with three first-round picks, leadership is always needed and that's why re-signing Doug Free would be approach for the Cowboys. We've already seen that Free is willing to take less money to be here in Dallas so he's probably going to stay as long as the contract offer is fair. Even though he's got a few more years on him than Jermey Parnell, Free is not only the better overall player but better leader. Parnell will get a good contract for another team considering how bad some of the right tackles are around the league. But I'd re-sign Free but still look for some depth in the draft considering his age and the fact backup Darrion Weems is coming off a season-long shoulder injury.
David:How does this strike you for a crazy idea? In an ideal world, the Cowboys will be able to bring Doug Free back on an affordable contract. I honestly think Jermey Parnell will command too big of an offer because of his athleticism and his upside. But what if the cost of keeping Free is too high, too? It's not unreasonable to think both veteran tackles will try to maximize their paydays, though I'm sure they both understand the benefit of working with such a talented line. Would it be crazy to see the Cowboys go back to the same well and draft a new tackle in the first round, though? If you're following the ongoing draft coverage, you've probably heard names like Miami's Ereck Flowers and Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings. The Cowboys could potentially draft another Day 1 starter, and they'd be free to play on the right side of the line, with Tyron Smith holding down the all-important left tackle spot. I can't think of a better group of guys to guide a first-round pick than Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin – all of whom have been through the process. Free is the best-case scenario for 2015, but I'd be fine with continuing to build through the draft.