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Kavner: Clabo Deal Could Get Ball Rolling On Free Decision


IRVING, Texas – Options are running out for the Cowboys at right tackle this season.

Free agents Tyson Clabo and Eric Winston were considered the most likely replacements if tackle Doug Free didn't accept a pay cut, but Clabo signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins during the weekend.

The move came just a few days after free agent tackle Bryant McKinnie re-signed for two years with the Ravens. Both deals were reportedly for around $3.5 million a year.

Clabo appeared to be the top target for the Cowboys if they went the free agent route. The longer the Cowboys wait to make a decision, the more free agents go off the market, swinging the leverage toward Free, who hasn't accepted the cut yet.

Now, Winston is one of the few remaining possibilities for the Cowboys to look at via free agency, and they should be able to get him for much less than the $7 million Free is scheduled to make. But executive vice president Stephen Jones has said he'd like to have Free back at a reduced rate, and the fact that Free hasn't been cut yet would suggest as much.

If Free stays, he'd compete with Jermey Parnell for the right tackle spot. Both players rotated in and out at the end of the 2012 season.
The question becomes whether or not the Cowboys view the 29-year-old Winston as a significant upgrade from Free, who struggled on the right side in 2012. The Clabo deal limits the Cowboys' options and should get the ball rolling for a decision on the right tackle spot to come soon.

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