Todd Archer is reporting that Doug Free has informed the Cowboys that he intends to retire. Unless the team plans to move La’el Collins to right tackle and has confidence in his ability in that position, right tackle has increased as a position of need.
Salary Cap Impact – In addition to saving $5 million from Free’s 2017 salary, the team can also recoup $1.5 million of the $4.5 million signing bonus paid to Free in 2015 (figures per OvertheCap.com). Financially, his retirement is better than a release since Free would not have to pay back the prorated portion of his signing bonus if he was released.
Options for Right Tackle
- La’el Collins could be tried at right tackle, and the team has previously indicated that he could play right tackle if Free retired. However, that would open up a starting spot at guard.
- Chaz Green has shown decent ability in his limited time, but he can hardly be counted on based on his extensive injury history both at the University of Florida and during his two years with the Cowboys.
- Emmitt Cleary has been a journeyman, but didn’t show any glaring weaknesses in his one game last season.
- The free agency cupboard is pretty bare at offensive tackle. The only remaining free agents are Ryan Clady and Sebastion Vollmer. Clady hasn’t been good for several seasons, and Vollmer was released due to injury issues.
- Draft – Considering that (1) the draft is not strong in offensive linemen, (2) Collins is not a sure thing to transition well to tackle, (3) the teams drafting just before Dallas in the first round are desperate for offensive line help, the team probably won’t use their first round pick on an offensive lineman. However, first round options include Ryan Ramczyk (likely gone by 28), Cam Robinson (Alabama), Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky), and Garett Bolles (Utah). Second round options include Taylor Moton (Western Michigan), Roderick Johnson (Florida State), Antonio Garcia (Troy), and Adam Bisnowaty (Pitt).
Options for Guard if Collins is moved to Right Tackle
- Nick Mangold – This is pure speculation and I haven’t heard anyone indicate any interest between Mangold and the Cowboys, but it could be a good match. Mangold has had a stellar career, and while his production has dipped the last three years, he has still been a steady and reliable center. He is only 33, which isn’t that old for an offensive lineman. Despite the issues with the Jets in recent seasons, Mangold has been a consummate professional. However, escaping New York and joining a winning program could still provide a boost to his morale, and playing with 3 perennial Pro-Bowl players should boost his productivity. He would provide a steady, low risk, and assignment sound option. He would also be a strong backup to Travis Frederick, which would allow the team to not be forced to have a backup offensive lineman that can play center on the game day active list, which could in turn save a roster spot used for the offensive line. Finally, Mangold would not count in the compensatory pick formula because he was released by the Jets.
- Chaz Green could be inserted at guard if he does not win the starting right tackle job.
- Jonathan Cooper, if resigned, is an experienced player who could win the left guard job.
- Other free agency options include TJ Lang (GB), DJ Fluker (SD), and Brian Schwenke (TEN). All three are much better pass protectors than run blockers and may command a salary more than the Cowboys are willing to pay.
What do you say Cowboys Nation – should La’el Collins be moved to Offensive Tackle?