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Doug Free Retiring

Doug Free and Tyron Smith

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?

Frank B.

Frank B

Frank B

Author CowboysNation.com at SportsTalkLine
Writer with a financial background who specializes in roster management and the salary cap.
Frank B

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  • Jon b

    Martin and Collins both get time at RT audition.

    Draft a guy or two. Mangold on cheap at G and backup C maybe but our luck with over 30 lineman FA hasn’t been good.

    Dallas is now missing 40% of the starters of its most powerful and strongest position.

  • hardwater

    It would be prudent for Cowboys to try Collins out at RT in camp and see if he can play there. I have zero confidence in Chaz The Injured. Plus Collins is going to want big money after this season due to his perceived first round value. He should have the talent to be a decent/good RT (played LT at LSU) and that would be the best solution because it seems unlikely Chaz will be that player. Hell, if nothing else see if Cleary can play RT.

  • McShrek

    This is not good news, wonder if they had any inkling before allowing Leary to leave without an offer………..this affects the strength of the team, moving Collins might sound like an option but IMO they would prefer NOT to that and have to introduce two new members (even if one would be moving to right tackle) to the offensive line……this might affect the way the team addresses the upcoming draft……….while Free was a limited player, he was part of the core of team (Romo, Church, Mo, Wilcox, Crawford, McClain were all heavy contributors over the past years, possibly Carr) ……….this team’s 2017 roster will hardly be recognizable to the 2016 version………would also submit that signing Martin just took an even more elevated approach….FO has its work cut out for them.

  • paul karam

    The team is not in cap hell! They MAY be in cap hell NEXT season when they must resign Martin, D. Lawrence and Collins. With money saved from Romo’s contract , they may be OK. I get the feeling the ‘Boys are ready to roll with the DEs they currently have (Damontre Moore is basically a flier to see what might happen). It doesn’t look like they will sign a free agent DE until late in free agency (if the price is right) or go with who they have and wait for the draft. I have a feeling they could go with Mayowa, Lawrence and Tapper at right end and pick up a DE or two in the draft. They are in no hurry. OH, did I mention that Irving will be a restricted FA after this season also?

  • Sheila Coughlin

    The best case scenario is Chaz Green gets/stays healthy and plays RT for the next few yrs. The next best option is Collins moves to RT and a LG is found. Leary really improved the OL when he became a starter last yr, the jury is still out on La’el. I really think this may prompt the Cowboys to trade down and try to get more picks. This created another huge hole smh.
    On a side note, if Romo is designated as post June 1st, they should use that money to extend Zach in a heavily FRONT LOADED deal with low base salary in the future. A couple deals like that will help get them out of cap hell…