Dallas Cowboys Are Foolish to Consider Keeping Doug Free

Alex Hall@@AlexKHallCorrespondent IIIMarch 17, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 25:  Doug Free #68 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on August 25, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have done more subtracting than adding this free-agency period, but the one player they haven't subtracted is the one that most needs to go.

Marcus Spears is gone, Gerald Sensabaugh and Dan Connor are also gone. Offensive tackle Doug Free is still a Cowboy, however, and ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins has a source who says that's not changing in the near future.

Watkins broke the news that Free could end up being a June 1 cut after Dallas figures out its offensive line through free agency and the draft. A June 1 cut would save the Cowboys $7 million heading into the 2013 season, but that would happen after all of the best free agents had signed.

Dallas is strapped financially at just $175,000 under the salary cap, so replacing Free via free agency isn't a top option. That doesn't change the fact that guys like Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer are still out there, both of whom are better options at tackle than Free.

Considering that Free has failed to live up to the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2011, and the others that have already been shown the door, that Free is still on the roster is puzzling.

According to Pro Football Focus, Free was the most penalized offensive tackle in all the NFL in 2012 with 15 penalties. Free has also struggled to protect Tony Romo, with Football Outsiders showing Dallas had the third-worst right tackle in the league last season.

Poor play paired with a big cap hit of $10.02 million would be reason for a release for most teams. However, the Cowboys don't have many options currently on the roster to replace Free at his position...but that's what the draft is for.

The 2013 draft has some great offensive tackles like Eric Fisher, D.J. Fluker, Kyle Long and of course Luke Joeckel. All of those names are probably first-round picks, but Dallas hasn't shied from spending that kind of pick when it's a big team need. That's why Tyron Smith is on this roster.

If the Cowboys are set on keeping Free for the time being like Watkins' source said, the reasoning better be just to see how things fall in the draft.

If Dallas grabs a top tackle in the first three rounds, Free should be expendable. If things don't break the Cowboys' way, Free might just squeak his way onto the 2013 starting roster.

The smart play for Jerry Jones and Co. would be to absolutely make sure a top tackle slaps on a Cowboys hat on draft day and let Free go. The veteran has had two years to prove he's worth his big contract, and he's failed to do so over that time.