Free, a fourth-rounder in 2007, is entering the fourth and final year of his contract.
don't come cheap.
This is all very premature. I get that. But you can bet the Cowboys have taken this type of scenario into consideration. They know that at some point, they'll have to spend at left tackle again. If they don't, it probably means they don't have a very good player there.
This front office has stayed one step ahead of the game. They wisely locked up their core - guys like Ware, Romo, Newman and Jay Ratliff, to name only a few - before the current CBA expired and the league plunged into financial uncertainty.
So if you're frustrated by the Cowboys' quiet offseason, that they didn't chase a big-name safety in free agency, keep in mind they still want to re-sign Miles Austin. Young starters like Mike Jenkins and Anthony Spencer will eventually want new deals if they keep playing at a Pro Bowl level. And you can add Doug Free to that list if he becomes the player the organization believes he will.
There likely will be some form of a returning salary cap under a new CBA. You can't pay everyone, but you can make room for your most important pieces.
Left tackle is certainly one. It just so happens it could be a steal at the moment. Free has to get it done on the field, but he's got plenty of motivation from a competitive and financial standpoint.