Decision On Free Not Yet Settled, Could Happen Before Draft


PHOENIX – No final decision's been made yet on the future of Doug Free.

Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the NFL Draft won't necessarily determine what the team decides to do with the tackle. In fact, the Cowboys could make a decision on Free in the coming weeks.

"I think there's more to it, without trying to talk in riddles," Jones said. "There's more to it. That implies a decision after the draft on Free, and we may be doing things there with our offensive line before the draft, relative to Free."

Free led the Cowboys with 15 penalties in 2012, two of which were declined. The switch from left tackle to right tackle didn't go as swimmingly as the Cowboys would have hoped, and a rotation between Free and Jermey Parnell developed before the end of the season.

Jones said Free might actually be a better fit as a left tackle than a right tackle, but he thought Free played better when the rotation began.

Wherever the Cowboys put him, they'd be overpaying unless his play significantly increases next season. They could ask him to take a pay cut, save $7 million on the cap by designating him a June 1 release or let him play out his contract.

"That's unique that he's got that experience at left tackle, Free," Jones said. "That might make a difference as we look at any options that we have there, too."

If Free is still around by the start of training camp, he could compete with [embedded_ad] Parnell for a starting spot. The loser of that competition would likely serve as a swing tackle. The Cowboys could go a variety of ways with Free at this point, and Jones could see a scenario where they keep Free at his current deal.

"It's not impossible, but I could see us staying at his number and sitting there with him and Parnell penciled in and him be the swing or Parnell be the swing with (Tyron) Smith at left tackle and then going on out from there with the rest of the offensive line," Jones said.

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