IRVING, Texas – Three days before the free-for-all of free agency, the Cowboys reached a new deal with one of its most important free agents.
The Cowboys re-signed veteran right tackle Doug Free to a three-year contract on Saturday morning. The agreement means all five of Dallas' starting offensive linemen from the No. 2 rushing game in the NFL will be back with the team in 2015.
Free is easily the Cowboys' most veteran offensive lineman, as he was drafted by Dallas in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He just turned 31, whereas the Cowboys' four other starting linemen – Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin – are 24,25,23 and 24, respectively.
The Cowboys will no doubt be happy to have their starting right tackle back in the fold, but it almost assuredly means they'll be parting ways with Jermey Parnell. Free missed seven games in 2014 due to injury, and Parnell picked up the slack on the right side. It's likely the 28-year-old will be given an opportunity to start elsewhere in the coming days.
Free has 92 games and 82 starts under his belt during his eight-year stretch with the Cowboys. Last season was the first time he'd missed a start since 2010. In October, he injured his foot during the waning minutes of the Week 6 win against Seattle and sat out for three games.
He returned for the 31-17 win against Jacksonville in Week 9, but he suffered another injury in the 38-27 win against Philadelphia on Dec. 15 and sat out the remainder of the season. Free had minor surgery to clean up the problem immediately after the offseason.