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Cowboys Right Tackle: Who Replaces Recently Retired Doug Free?

Brian Martin

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How Should The Dallas Cowboys Replace RT Doug Free?

With the recent announcement of Doug Free's retirement, the Dallas Cowboys now have a hole to fill in their offensive line at the right tackle position. Whether or not the new Cowboys right tackle is currently on the roster or if they have to look outside for help, I thought it was a good time to explore all of their options.

You can say all you want about Doug Free, but he's been a mainstay on the right side of the Cowboys offensive line for nearly a decade and his veteran leadership will certainly be missed in the locker room. Unfortunately, age catches up with all athletes and his play on the field was noticeably starting to decline. He chose to leave the game on his own terms, instead of waiting for his fate to be chosen for him.

For the Dallas Cowboys offensive line to continue to be one of the best units in the NFL, they absolutely have to do their due diligence in order to find their next starting right tackle. Below we will examine the Cowboys options to find Doug Free's replacement for 2017 and beyond.

Cowboys In-House Options

OT Emmett ClearyThe Dallas Cowboys are certainly hoping that Doug Free's replacement is currently on the roster. That means they don't have to bring in anyone else and can put their minds at ease they will once again have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. But, only they know how comfortable they are with their current in-house options.

Chaz Green is probably the favorite to step in and become the right tackle in 2017. That is why he was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft to begin with. Green has filled in nicely as an injury replacement and played well when given the chance, but he simply can't stay healthy. That's not very encouraging if you're looking for stability at the right tackle position.

Emmett Cleary is another in-house option the Cowboys could look at to replace Doug Free. Like Green, Cleary has played well as an injury replacement, so we could see an open competition between the two tackles this off-season.

Of course, the wildcard here is La'el Collins. The signing of offensive guard Jonathan Cooper gives the Cowboys some flexibility with what they want to do with Collins. He was a tackle in college at LSU, but the Cowboys like him better inside as a guard. Cooper can be the Cowboys new starting left guard, which would allow Collins to kick outside right tackle.

Unfortunately, will have to wait and see exactly how they feel about their in-house options.

Sign a Veteran Free Agent

OT Austin PasztorI think it's unlikely that the Dallas Cowboys decide to go this route, but signing a veteran free agent tackle they could plug-in and play right away has its advantages. The reason I don't see them going this route though is because of the money involved. But, if they could find a bargain, that certainly changes things.

Ryan Clady, King Dunlap, Sebastian Vollmer, and even Austin Pasztor are all available free agent tackles the Cowboys could look to bring in. All of them have started in the NFL and could even be an upgrade if all parties can come together by working out a contract that is mutually beneficial to everyone involved.

I personally don't see them going this route with both with Chaz Green and Emmett Cleary on the roster, but things can change in a blink of an eye if they decide they don't like their current options.

Draft a Rookie Replacement

OT Cam RobinsonThe Dallas Cowboys have built their impressive offensive line through the draft, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they decided to go this route once again. This isn't the deepest class for offensive lineman, so they might have to invest yet another early round draft pick if they're looking for someone to plug-in as a rookie.

If the Cowboys are looking for an instant starter as a rookie, then they will probably have to hope either Ryan Ramczyk, Garett Bolles, or Cam Robinson are still available when they're on the clock at 28 in the first round. Of course, there are other options available later in the draft, but they might not be ready to step in right away.

Since the Cowboys do currently have options on the roster, they don't have to reach for a prospect. They can let the draft play out and if there's an offensive tackle sitting there they think can come in and be an upgrade, then they will certainly pull the trigger.

There's no way of knowing right now what they will do to replace Doug Free, but this will certainly be a situation we will all probably be keeping a close watchful eye on. For the Dallas Cowboys to have a successful 2017 season, finding the right replacement at right tackle could be the deciding factor.

How do you think the Dallas Cowboys should replace Doug Free?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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4 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    Would expect the OL draft strategy is to look for value and/or a project with talent down the draft. Especially someone with swing ability like Collins. But unless it’s just an offensive player that can’t be passed on, pretty sure the focus up the draft stays on defense this year.

    So they have to add on the OL – whether that way or F/A. I like the idea of Collins at RT because it should be an instant upgrade from Free, and it may be the thing that keeps him healthy. Also LG should be an easier proposition to fill – whether that is Cooper, draft or F/A.

    And LG is a lucky position for Dallas. Nate Newton and Ronald Leary, both went undrafted.

    • Brian Martin

      There is no way of really knowing what the Cowboys are going to do to address the RT position. Personally, I don’t understand why everybody wants to move Collins. The Cowboys tried him there previously in training camp and obviously didn’t really like what they saw. That is why he has been the left guard. I think they are ready to go with Green and Cleary, but wouldn’t hesitate to draft a OT if they thought it was an upgrade.

      • Russ_Te

        Collins has the size and athleticism for T, but if he just doesn’t look as good there, no doubt that will affect what they do. I see the move outside as a possibility not really a probability. If they think Cooper fills the LG, they may decide to look again at Collins for RT. But if it’s a drop off for him, better to go another direction of course.

        More confident about the draft approach – defense early unless an offensive player falls whom it would be foolish to pass on. In any case, I think they’ll find an intriguing project or two who could turn into an OL starter down the road.

        • Brian Martin

          Russ, I agree with all that.

Star Blog

Time to see What Darius Jackson can do as Zeke’s Backup?

Brian Martin

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Will RB Darius Jackson Stick With Cowboys Second Time Around?

I hate to say it because I really like Rod Smith, but I think it may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to reevaluate the running back position as it pertains to Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup. Smith just hasn't been good this year, which is why I think it may be time to see what Darius Jackson can do if given the opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting the Dallas Cowboys move on from Rod Smith or demote him right now, but I would promote Darius Jackson from the practice squad to the active roster as insurance in case something were to happen to Zeke. It just seems the right time to make that move after #21's injury scare Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles.

You may have forgotten, but Ezekiel Elliott had to spend some time in the medical tent Sunday against the Eagles. He was luckily able to return to the game not long after, but it did shine a spotlight on Rod Smith and the lack of depth behind him.

Despite how much I like Rod Smith, and I do, he just hasn't been the same player this season as he was last year as Zeke's fill-in. He is just not running with any kind of authority and has been too apt to run east and west instead of north and south. I think it's one of the reasons why the Cowboys have continued to give Zeke such a heavy workload, despite him being banged up.

Rod Smith

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith

Now, Rod Smith did look a little better against the Eagles, but I still believe it would be wise for the Cowboys to promote Darius Jackson to the active roster. Having more depth at such a physically demanding position is just smart football.

With the Dallas Cowboys playoff spot all but secured, it might be time to start thinking about lightening Ezekiel Elliott's workload just a little bit. Whether it's Rod Smith or Darius Jackson, the Cowboys have to find someone who can step in and be productive.

Rod Smith has had his opportunities this year, but hasn't really been able to capitalize like we believed he could. It might be time to turn to Darius Jackson, a fan favorite, who unfortunately just hasn't been able to prove what he can do as of yet in a meaningful game. I think it's time we change that.

As much as I like Rod Smith, I might like Darius Jackson just a little bit more. I think he is kind of like a poor man's Ezekiel Elliott. He is just as athletically gifted and can be a threat as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He just needs the opportunity to prove it.

There's really no way of knowing if I'm right or wrong about this, but I believe he is worthy of a roster spot on game day if nothing else. I'd rather have him and not need him then need him and not have him.

Do you think it's time to see what Darius Jackson can do?



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Star Blog

Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

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Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

Well don’t look now but the Dallas Cowboys are in control of their division and anything short of a catastrophic collapse will see them hosting the first round of the playoffs. Dallas strengthened their grip on the NFC East by knocking off a divisional rival and the reigning Super Bowl champions with a 29-23 overtime win over the Eagles.

Those who have a favorite online sportsbook and wagered on the Cowboys were ecstatic to see Dak Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime, thus covering the 3 ½ point impost that oddsmakers hung on Dallas.

The Cowboys have now won five consecutive games, with three of those over divisional opponents Philadelphia (twice) and Washington. But before we celebrate, we must consider that there's still a mathematical possibility of either Philadelphia or Washington stealing the division crown away from the Cowboys.

The Giants' only hope is an outside shot at a wildcard berth if they win outright but they've been eliminated from contending for a division title due to their 1-4 record against NFC East teams.

Essentially, all the Cowboys must do is win one of their three remaining games in order to celebrate a division crown. If Philadelphia or Washington loses any of their three games they will be out due to tie breakers that go in the Cowboys’ favor.

As of this moment, the Redskins are a disaster with no one under center to captain their rudderless ship, and the Eagles must defeat the Rams in LA, which would be considered a stunning upset seeing as any reputable online sportsbook is offering the Rams as 9 ½ point favorites as of this writing; then they must win at home against Houston and on the road against the Redskins.

Of course, the Cowboys are counting only on themselves to reel in the division title and with games at Indianapolis, home against the Bucs, and wrapping their season in New Jersey against the Giants, at least one win seems likely.

The addition of Amari Cooper to the Dallas offensive arsenal has been a game-changer as the former Oakland Raider hauled in 10 of 13 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner last Sunday against Philadelphia. He was the top-tier receiver Prescott had been lacking and his presence on the field improves both the passing game and running game by virtue of his dynamic playmaking abilities. Ezekiel Elliott has eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in four of the six games since Cooper has been on the Cowboys roster.

Furthermore, Dallas has averaged 24.4 points per game over their last five wins with Cooper in the lineup, which is more than five points improved from where they were prior to their winning streak without him in a Dallas uniform.

In addition, Prescott has morphed from a game manager at 202 passing yards per game to a game breaker as evidenced by his 285.7 passing yard average in six games with his new target at his disposal.

Ultimately, the Cowboys will be tasked with turning all of this good mojo into a deep run into the postseason. We can now confidently say that there is one other team to consider besides the Rams, Bears, and Saints as this year’s NFC entrant into the Super Bowl. However, Dak Prescott will need to eliminate turnovers and interceptions if Dallas is truly going to contend against the powerhouses they will face in the playoffs.

Last Sunday, Prescott caught fire in the fourth quarter and ended with 455 yards passing, connecting on 42 of 54 passes with three touchdowns, but his two interceptions were converted into nine points by Philadelphia. As we move forward, Prescott will need to lead right from the get-go and understand that one poor decision can cost his team what is now a realistic shot at a championship season.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Revenge Against Atlanta Hinges on These 3 Key Matchups 1

Cuando los Dallas Cowboys sorprendieron a la NFL mandando una selección de primera ronda por el receptor Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, la respuesta fue muy dividida. Al final de cuentas, Cooper estaba pasando por una temporada bastante mala junto a su equipo. Sus números iban en decline y muchos habían perdido la fe en la ex-estrella de la universidad de Alabama y cuarta selección global en el NFL Draft del 2015.

Pero sorpresa, sorpresa. Desde que se unió a las filas de los Dallas Cowboys, Amari Cooper ha demostrado que la decisión que tomaron los Jones fue una muy buena.

En esta liga, es muy complicado justificar el deshacerse de un pick de primera ronda.

Estamos hablando de la oportunidad de tomar a un novato joven con muchísimo potencial para convertirse en un jugador calibre All-Pro en algún punto de su carrera. No es fácil renunciar a una posibilidad así en esta liga. Sin embargo, Amari Cooper no ha hecho más que justificar el trade por parte de los Cowboys. Si continúa así, al final de la temporada podríamos estar hablando de que Dallas pagó de menos por él.

Es importante recalcar que Amari Cooper tiene 24 años de edad. Para el NFL Draft del 2019, los mejores prospectos en esta posición tienen a lo mucho cuatro años menos. A.J. Brown de Ole Miss tendrá 21 años cuando pise el emparrillado por primera vez en la NFL.

Y no, ninguno de estos receptores está cerca del nivel de talento con el que cuenta Cooper.

#DALvsPHI: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?

¿Qué tan grande ha sido el impacto de Amari Cooper?

Desde la semana 9, cuando los Cowboys consiguieron a Cooper, este ha tenido 30 recepciones. 23 de las cuales han resultado en un primer down o en un touchdown. Es el receptor con más atrapadas en tercera oportunidad. Podríamos hablar de las grandes estadísticas que el wide receiver ha conseguido vistiendo la estrella individualmente. Pero realmente, ha tenido un impacto en la ofensiva entera.

Desde su llegada, los Cowboys son el tercer mejor equipo en porcentaje de pases completos, el segundo en yardas después de la recepción y el tercero a la hora de convertir terceras oportunidades y mover las cadenas.

Simple y sencillamente, ha tenido un impacto que ningún otro novato del 2019 hubiera tenido en este equipo. Si, los Cowboys tendrán que pagarle una extensión cara en el futuro, pero cuando este sea el caso, lo habrá valido.

Amari Cooper es el ejemplo perfecto de porque la NFL es un deporte de equipo. Con los Raiders, todos lo tachaban como un jugador que ya no era bueno e iba para abajo. Pero bajo los Dallas Cowboys, se ve como un jugador que promete mucho para esta joven franquicia que necesitaba un verdadero #1 en la posición de wide receiver.

La ofensiva de los Cowboys tiene mucho talento. Es cuestión de mejorar en zona roja para que Dallas sea una amenaza bastante considerable en los playoffs de la NFL.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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!



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