Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Free Agency: Decisions Ahead At Right Tackle Published 3 years ago on March 6, 2015 By Brian Leatherman Share Tweet The 2014 Dallas Cowboys offensive line had the strongest performance of any unit on the team. Good enough to support the league’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, on his way to over 1,800 yards. Their performance reminded many people of the 1990’s Cowboys offensive line and their dominance on the way to 3 Super Bowl victories. When people talked about this unit in 2014, the name you heard the most were usually Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, rookie sensation Zack Martin, and even Ronald Leary. The two names that always seemed to get overlooked were right tackles Doug Free & Jermey Parnell. Doug Free started the season at right tackle and played extremely well. He was playing at a top-level before a week 6 injury in the victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Jermey Parnell came in on the next play of that game and helped open a hole for DeMarco Murray to reach pay dirt – Touchdown Cowboys. From that point on, Jermey Parnell played well whenever he was asked to step in for Free. Landon McCool – who hosts the Blogging the Boys podcast – shared some information with me on how both Free and Parnell graded out in the PFF rankings. (By the way you can follow Landon on twitter @McCoolBTB ) Free: 8.5 (21st) 5.6 Run 1.2 pass Parnell: 8.7 (20th) 5.3 Run 3.4 Pass Overall, Parnell seemed to grade out higher than Free. I don’t like PFF ratings. I think there are entirely too many flaws with their system, especially for the offensive line. I’m more old school and use the ole eye test to tell me who is playing well, or not so well. Both players had good seasons, and now both players are free agents. So…. Who do you keep? You have Parnell, who has youth on his side and a tremendous amount of athleticism. He’s okay in pass protection but better in run blocking. He’s proven that he can play in the big games against some big time pass rushers and hold his own. But he often seemed to lose focus during games and it took him a while to get things going again. Free is a little older but he still has plenty of athleticism to get the job done. Before he was hurt, he was playing as good as any right tackle in the league. But what Free brought to the table was leadership for the offensive line and he helped rookie sensation Zach Martin transition from left tackle in college to right guard in the NFL. Both players are well liked by the team and around the league. Bill Callahan, the new offensive line coach for the Redskins, said Parnell could start for just about any team in the league. While Jason Garrett has said he would love to have both players back. But chatter around Valley Ranch is that the team could end up signing Doug Free to a 2 or 3 year deal and look to the draft to find an upgrade/replacement for Parnell to be the eventual starter. This very well could mean Free will retire a Cowboy, and owner Jerry Jones selects another offensive lineman early in the draft. With the start of free agency looming just a few days away, this is one of the many questions that have to be answered by the Dallas Cowboys. And perhaps choosing which right tackle to go with is one of the bigger decisions that has to be made. ADVERTISEMENT Related Topics:Doug FreeJermey Parnell Up Next The Cowboys Linebacker Shuffle of 2014 Don't Miss Potential Replacements for Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray Brian Leatherman Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys. Advertisement You may like Cowboys Offseason Regrets: Offensive Line Shakeup Will The Cowboys’ Offensive Line Miss RT Doug Free In 2017? Doug Free Officially Placed on Reserve/Retired List by Cowboys Cowboys Right Tackle: Who Replaces Recently Retired Doug Free? Cowboys Offensive Line Remains NFL’s Best Dallas Cowboys RT Doug Free Announces Retirement 2 Comments Paul Leatherman I would keep David Arkin https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece It’s a 3 year deal for Doug Free, Broaddus confirms. Part 1, check. Now to see what happens with Parnell. Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys Published 3 hours ago on January 21, 2018 By Mauricio Rodriguez Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports For Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, it was now or never. With an expiring rookie contract, it was time for him to make a name for himself. Between injuries and a suspension, Lawrence wasn’t close to being a great player before 2017. He accounted for eight sacks in 2015 and only one in 2016. However, last season he was finally able to get double-digit numbers by sacking opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times. Lawrence also had 36 tackles and four forced fumbles. Not only was he a very good pass rusher, but he also became a great run defender. Simply put, DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence went from an average player to one of the NFL’s best defensive ends in 2017. It seems like finally, after years of waiting, the Dallas Cowboys have found their “War Daddy.” But, as is always the case for the Cowboys, there’s a problem. DeMarcus Lawrence needs to be paid in order for him to stay. With number 90 ready to hit free agency, the Cowboys’ front office has a choice to make. They can give him the big multi-year contract he wants, they can tag him, or the Cowboys can watch him walk out the front door and thrive somewhere else in the league. Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Scott Cunningham / Getty Images) There’s a problem with giving him a big-time contract though. Lawrence had a great 2017 season, but before that, he hadn’t proved anything. Tank has provided one quality season for the Dallas Cowboys. Are they willing to pay him a lot of money and take the risk of seeing him play like in 2015 or 2016? It wouldn’t be the first time that an NFL player has had a great “contract year” season just to become an average football player. The Cowboys should look at the possibility of keeping Lawrence for at least one more year by giving him a franchise tag. But First of All, What is a Franchise Tag? The offseason is a time in which we sort of understand certain concepts but don’t truly understand them completely. Simply put, every year each NFL team has the right to hand out a franchise tag to one of its players. Tagging a player means giving him a one-year deal with a high payment, basically forcing the player to stay with the team for one more season. In some cases, the player might even end up on another team, despite being tagged, but that would depend on the type of franchise tag he receives. There are three types of franchise tags: Exclusive Franchise Tag: With this tag, the player gets paid the average of the top five salaries for the player’s position (in this case, defensive end) for the current year. With this tag, no other team can negotiate with the player (hence the term exclusive). However, only guys like Kirk Cousins or Von Miller get exclusive tags, so it probably won’t be the case for Lawrence. Non-exclusive Franchise Tag: Out of every tag, this is the most used. With this tag, the player receives the average of the top five salaries at his position over the last five years. Other teams can actually negotiate with the player though. If offered a deal by another team, the current team has the right to match the offer. If they decline to do so, they get two first-round picks in compensation. Transition Franchise Tag: This isn’t as compromising as the other tags are, since the team doesn’t even receive compensation if the player takes a deal with another team. The player is paid the average of the ten best salaries at his position. The current team has the opportunity to match any offers made to the player. In DeMarcus Lawrence’s case, the “non-exclusive” tag would make the most sense, but even if the Cowboys decide to tag Lawrence, there’s still a big problem… cap space. Per Over The Cap, Dallas is expected to have a cap number of around $18M. The projected tag for a DE in 2018 is over $17M. The Cowboys have to make some moves if they want to keep Tank on the roster. Whether it’s releasing some players or restructuring a ton of contracts, something will need to get done in Dallas. Lawrence is not the only player the Cowboys should be concerned about re-signing, so they’ll definitely need the cap space. We may see some surprising cap casualties if the Cowboys really want Lawrence. I wouldn’t even be surprised if this team says goodbye to Dez Bryant, for example. I don’t see how this team could let DeMarcus Lawrence walk in free agency. I don’t think they should. Let’s hope Tank is wearing a star in 2018. Tell me what you think about “DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys! ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Have Need for Speed at Running Back Published 4 hours ago on January 21, 2018 By Jess Haynie Tom Pennington/Getty Images The Dallas Cowboys have a lot needs in the 2018 offseason. Running back may seem low on the list, but Dallas should not take it for granted. They have an opportunity to add some needed speed and explosion to their offense. Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith will form an exciting one-two punch at the top of the RB depth chart. Alfred Morris‘ contract has expired and it’s unlikely he’ll return with Smith’s late-season push for a larger role. Rod Smith is an ideal backup for Elliott. He has the right mix of power and athleticism to run some of the same plays, plus he’s not a bad receiver. He could even work as the third-down back when Zeke needs a breather. Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) Between those two, Dallas has all the power and standard running they need. That’s why I believe they should use the number-three spot this year on a true speedster. I’m sure the first name that pops in mind is Lance Dunbar, who held that role to varying degrees from 2012-2016. Dunbar could be used in a variety of speed-based plays, go out as a receiver, and even return kicks at times. The Cowboys have a candidate for this role already in Trey Williams, who was on the practice squad and will be with the team at least to start the offseason. Small and versatile, Williams looks like he fits that Dunbar mold. However, Williams isn’t a true burner. He clocked just 4.49 at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’s quick and agile, but isn’t necessarily going to beat guys to the edge. With the way Dallas’ offensive linemen can move and work out in space, a back with blazing speed could do some real damage. All he needs is a lane and he could make house calls. Right now, wide receiver Ryan Switzer is the only player Dallas has who can assume some of those Dunbar-like roles. He could be effective on screens and reverses. But a guy with those same skills at RB can be even more dangerous. He can leave defenses guessing even more because they’re not sure which position he’s playing until after the huddle breaks. That third roster spot is wide open, so the Cowboys should spend the offseason looking for a weapon that provides a different skill set and more for opponents to worry about. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Face Tough Decision with DL Tyrone Crawford Published 5 hours ago on January 21, 2018 By Jess Haynie AP Photo/Brandon Wade As the Dallas Cowboys look to get back into the playoffs next season, they have some work to do on their current roster. Talent needs to be added and retained, and that takes money. Veteran Tyrone Crawford’s contract puts the Cowboys in a tough spot. Crawford isn’t the Cowboys’ best defender, but he did have the highest cap hit in 2017, even more than linebacker Sean Lee. Crawford will count $9.1 million against Dallas’ salary cap next season, which is currently second behind Lee’s projected $11-million hit. That fact alone would make you think Tyrone Crawford is likely to be released this offseason. It would seem even more likely when you consider how guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving have eclipsed him as impact players on the defensive line. However, Crawford’s contract isn’t so easily discarded. Dallas Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford Because of past restructuring, Dallas won’t get much cap relief by cutting Tyrone outright. He still has $7.3 million in dead money on the deal, which means cap savings of only $1.8 million. That’s a small return for losing a solid, dependable player and great locker room guy. Crawford can play inside or outside in the 4-3, and he’s been a veteran leader on an otherwise young roster. If Dallas were to make Tyrone Crawford a June-1st release, they would get $6 million in cap space for 2018 and push another $4.2-million in dead money to 2019. That sounds nice on the surface, but keep in mind Dallas can’t use that $6 million during free agency in March. It only becomes available after June 1st. Still, the Cowboys could find ways to use that money. It could fund their rookie pool, or go toward a new contract for Lawrence or Irving. It could also be used to sign other June-1st cap casualties. If nothing else, it could be rolled over to next season. But again, you lose a solid player in the exchange. Tyrone Crawford may not be worth a $9.1-million cap hit, but you have to factor in replacement cost. Dallas could certainly get by. Assuming Lawrence and Irving return, they also have Maliek Collins, Taco Charlton, and Charles Tapper under contract. Benson Mayowa has one year left on his deal, but is likely to be a cap casualty himself. The Cowboys also have several young prospects in Richard Ash, Lewis Neal, and anyone they might add in this year’s draft. This would be a no-brainer if Crawford’s contract hadn’t been reworked in the past. Dallas would likely get a nice chunk of immediate change if they cut him, but they created their own problem here with the restructuring. Now they have an asset who isn’t worth his price, but doesn’t offer enough relief to be worth cutting. It’s a tough call; one of many the Cowboys will face in the 2018 offseason. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Sportsbook odds for all Dallas Cowboys games Reader Survey Want to help make Inside The Star better? We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device. > Take the survey now Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.). Advertisement Advertisement Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! 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