Dallas Cowboys Cowboys 2017 Salary Cap May Force Change at Right Tackle Published 11 months ago on February 24, 2017 By Jess Haynie Share Tweet Leading up to the March 9th start of NFL free agency, we will be looking at all Dallas Cowboys players under contract for 2017 and how much of the salary cap each position is taking up. Position Breakdowns: SPECIAL TEAMS | RUNNING BACKS | SAFETIES | TIGHT ENDS | LINEBACKERS | GUARDS & CENTERS | DEFENSIVE TACKLES | DEFENSIVE ENDS | QUARTERBACKS | CORNERBACKS | RECEIVERS Cowboys Capology: Offensive Tackles After 10 years of service in Dallas, Doug Free‘s time is close to ending. That end could come as soon as the next few weeks; Free is on the last year of his deal and Dallas can save $5 million in cap space if he’s released. He’s arguably the most attractive potential cap casualty on the roster. If Free is released, how will Dallas address the right tackle position? They have some in-house options but also could look to the draft and free agency. We also can’t dismiss the possibility that Free will return for one more year. Before we dive into the specifics, let’s look at the NFL’s 2017 salary cap. The league announced that the cap would be set at $167 million for the upcoming season. Even though this is still a $10 million increase from last year, it’s a few million short of what many were projecting. Confirmed 2017 Salary Cap = $167 million Cowboys 2016 Cap Rollover = $2.4 million Dallas Cowboys 2017 Salary Cap = $169.4 million Now, using that number as our foundation, let’s look at how much the Cowboys’ offensive tackles are scheduled to cost against the 2017 salary cap. LT Tyron Smith Tyron Smith 2017 Cap Hit: $8.82 million As we discussed recently with Travis Frederick, Smith’s contract is designed for annual restructuring to help the Cowboys’ cap situation. Dallas has no intention of letting Tyron, one of the elite left tackles in football, leave the team anytime before his contract expires in 2023. They will keep moving money around freely because of that confidence. RT Doug Free Doug Free 2017 Cap Hit: $7.5 million Shortly after the Cowboys’ playoff exit I wrote about how it was time to move on from Doug Free. Time hasn’t softened my position one bit. Releasing Free would create an instant cap saving of $5 million. Even if you have to spend all of that on his replacement, my belief is that player would give you more value for the money than Free is capable of at this point. What’s more, Dallas has two young prospects who’ve looked good in limited playing time. As we look at them next, consider the benefit of adding that $5 million to our spending pool. If you want the Cowboys to make those needed upgrades on defense, the money has to come from somewhere. OT Chaz Green (middle) Chaz Green 2017 Cap Hit: $786k The 2015 third-round pick has flashed ability but been plagued by injury problems. He lost all of his rookie year to a hip problem. Last year he played early, starting in place of Tyron Smith in Weeks 3 and 4, but then going out with a foot problem and eventually going on IR for his back. Taking a guy in the third round is no small thing. Other recent third-round picks for the Cowboys have been DeMarco Murray, Tyrone Crawford, Terrance Williams, J.J. Wilcox, and Maliek Collins. All of those players have been starters at some point, some as early as their rookie seasons. Will Dallas put their faith in Chaz Green to replace Doug Free? If so, is Emmett Cleary enough of an insurance policy? Clearly, there are a lot of moving parts in figuring out this right tackle situation. OT Emmett Cleary Emmett Cleary 2017 Cap Hit: $615k After playing well in spot duty for Tyron Smith and starting Dallas’ Week 17 finale, Cleary is an intriguing figure this offseason. We expect him to be in competition with Chaz Green, but the question is if they’ll be vying for a backup role or the starting job at right tackle. If Dallas does make Doug Free a cap casualty, will they trust either Cleary and Green enough to potentially take over? Have they shown enough to earn a shot at the job? We discuss this in more detail below. Clay DeBord 2017 Cap Hit: $465k Undrafted in 2016 and signed by the Arizona Cardinals, DeBord spent training camp and preseason with them until being released at first cuts. He then spent a few weeks on the New England Patriots’ practice squad before finally ending up with the Cowboys, staying on their squad from late September through the end of the season. DeBord’s scouting report describes him as an athletic player with strength and technique issues. He was signed to a two-year futures contract in January, so Dallas must be interested in seeing where his development goes. 2017 Salary Cap Impact Total Offensive Tackle Cap Hit = $18.19 million Percentage of 2017 Salary Cap = 10.74% Even after Tyron Smith’s restructure the OT position takes up a good chunk of salary cap space. The only way that changes is if Dallas makes Doug Free a cap casualty. As already mentioned, the ideal solution is to let Chaz Green and Emmett Cleary compete for the job. The winner would be your new right tackle and the loser would remain the primary backup and swing tackle. You’d clear the $5 million in space by cutting Free and not have to spend a dime of it on his replacement. The draft is another option. Some have suggested that Dallas could use their first-round pick, given the solid value of taking offensive linemen in the later picks compared to other positions. Last year’s 28th-overall pick counted $1.69 million against the cap as a rookie, so going that route would eliminate around 35% of what you saved by cutting Free. If you’re not confident in either Chaz Green or Emmett Cleary and want to commit draft resources to other positions, free agency is the other alternative. Dallas might be able to find a capable starter for about $2-$3 million; an older veteran who could provide a short-term answer. The nice thing for Dallas is that the foundation trio of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin allow for them to take some chances at the other two spots. While you never want a weak link or liability, you don’t have to invest heavily in all five positions to still have a dominant line. The superstar ability of your big three can help the other two to excel. ADVERTISEMENT Related Topics:2017 Salary CapCapologyChaz GreenDoug FreeTyron Smith Up Next Cowboys Need DE Help, But Will the Salary Cap Cooperate? Don't Miss Will McClay Wins Dallas Business Journal Minority Leader Award Jess Haynie Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I’ll be sure to respond! Advertisement You may like Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL? What was the Biggest Disappointment for Cowboys in 2017? 5 Biggest Concerns for Cowboys Heading Into the Off-Season Cowboys Place LT Tyron Smith on IR, Call Up OT Kadeem Edwards 5 Players Cowboys Should Sit In 2017 Season Finale Can Tyron Smith Tough it Out a Little Longer? Click to comment Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts Published 4 hours ago on January 16, 2018 By Jess Haynie Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense. He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016. Tom Pelissero on Twitter With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now. If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position. Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee. He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football. Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season. Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot. Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here. Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to. It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator. Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander Published 1 day ago on January 15, 2018 By Kevin Brady Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander. Alex Marvez on Twitter Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003. The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders. Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation. Joey Ickes on Twitter Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired. The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season. Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys. Goodberry on Twitter Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units. We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Dallas Cowboys Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job Published 2 days ago on January 14, 2018 By Sean Martin By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be. Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success. One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed. Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason. Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images) The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders. Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson. Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin. Mike Solari and Paul Alexander Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach. Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches. Goodberry on Twitter Paul Alexander better be gone Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88. From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned. He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position. Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track. Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search. Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL! 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