The Cowboys were very pleased with the play of rookie tackle Tyron Smith in 2011, enough to announce this week they intend to move him to left tackle, the primary position on the offensive line.
But no change would be made if the team got what it had hoped out of Doug Free in 2011. After signing a four-year, $32 million contract at the starte of training camp, he went on to lead the team in penalties and sacks allowed in his second full season as the starter.
Because of the long-term agreement, though, the Cowboys have little recourse but to hope he gets better on the right side. Team owner Jerry Jones says he can do it.
"I think we're too tough on Free," Jones said. "Although he had 10 sacks against him, I think we were too (tough) in all of our criticisms. That position is going to get criticized, like corner out there, it's going to get it, and gets it with some of the best. But still, I think we were too tough on him. He will get better.
"We knew when we gave him the money that one way or the other he was going to be on the field for us. And I'm not at all dismayed by the year that Free had, but certainly want him to do better and let that sack total against him go down."