IRVING, Texas – Owner/general manager Jerry Jones would like Doug Free to be a part of the team's future.
Now it comes down to finding the right price to keep him. Jones confirmed the Cowboys have asked Free to take a pay cut, but there's no set date to determine how long the right tackle has to make a decision.
"I don't think that with where we are that we need to have that kind of assessment of it," Jones said. "That would imply frustration. That would imply that the train's got to move on. That's not the atmosphere around this negotiation."
Free wouldn't comment on the pay cut or his future in Dallas when participating this week in the Cowboys' Home Run Derby at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Jones said he can't gauge how close a deal is, because the two sides need to find an equal, common ground. Talks are still ongoing with the hopes of finding a deal that makes sense for both parties.
"I'd like to keep him," Jones said. "We think that Doug Free is, can be, an important part of the team. He's been here, we know him and we think that with what we're doing in other parts of our offense, certainly on the offensive line, that this will bode well for him. So we think he can really be an asset to us."
Jones admits it's no secret the Cowboys are trying to get Free down from the $7 million salary he's scheduled to make this year. But he said, "It's a wrong assessment to say that anybody's saying take it or leave it."
Many of the top free agent tackles have already found jobs elsewhere. If the Cowboys were to let go of Free, who had a team-leading 13 penalties accepted against him, Eric Winston is still available in free agency. [embedded_ad]
Jones also likes what he's seen from Jermey Parnell, who rotated with Free at the end of last season, and he thinks the younger right tackle is ready to make the next step.
"When you say the next step, if that implies, 'Is he getting better?' Yes, I think he is getting better," Jones said. "I think his arrow, so to speak, is going up. So I feel good about where he is."