#68 Doug Free
Doug Free was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on January 16, 1984. He played collegiately at Northern Illinois University. He is currently an offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
Doug Free attended Lincoln High School in a Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He excelled on the football field as well as in the classroom during his high school career.
Free not only lettered three times in football at Lincoln High School, but was also an honor student.
As a defensive tackle in 2002, Free led the team to a 7-3 record and a playoff berth, recording 64 tackles, eight sacks, seven blocked kicks, six forced fumbles, six pass deflections, and two fumble recoveries. He also had six receptions for 141 yards and one touchdown as a tight end on offense.
As a senior, he was the team captain and was named defensive lineman of the year. He also earned first-team All-Fox Valley Conference honors on offense and defense, first-team Herald Times Reporter all-area honors, and Milwaukee Journey Sentinel all-state honors.
Upon the completion of his high school career, Doug Free accepted a scholarship to Northern Illinois University.
Doug Free was redshirted his first year at Northern Illinois, but was forced to start at right tackle as a freshman after Shea Fitzgerald was killed along with 12 others, when a back porch collapsed in Lincoln Park.
He started all 12 games following his redshirt season, the first two at right tackle, the next nine at left tackle, and the last at tight end. He was named to the Freshman All-America third-team by The Sporting News.
Free earned Sophomore All-American third-team honors from College Sports Report and was named second-team All-Mid American Conference by the league’s coaches.
As a junior, he started 12 games at left tackle and earned first-team All-Mid American Conference honors. He was also nominated for MAC All-Academic honors and CoSIDA District V All-Academic honors after earning a 3.24 grade point average in industrial technology.
As a senior, he earned first-team All-Mid American Conference and Academic All-MAC honors. He was also a member of the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award Watch List.
During his time at Northern Illinois, Doug Free started a total of 49 games and was a semifinalist for the Draddy Award, which recognizes academic success, football performance, and exemplary community service.
2007 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Doug Free in the fourth round (122nd overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft with the hopes of developing him into a key member along the offensive line.
Doug Free started his first preseason game as a rookie, but suffered a knee sprain that would eventually delay his development and cause him to be inactive for the first 15 games of the season. He did, however, receive some playing time at right tackle in the fourth quarter of the last game of the year.
In 2008, Free was inactive for 13 games and didn’t receive much playing time. It wasn’t until the next season — in 2009 — he got the chance to play, filling in for the injured Marc Colombo. He started seven games that season and performed at a high level, allowing only one quarterback sack.
The Dallas Cowboys decided to release long-time left tackle Flozell Adams on April 1, 2010 and named Doug Free the starting left tackle in his place. Free would go on to be recognized as one of the best players in the league at his position.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Doug Free to a four-year $32 million contract on July 26, 2011 to keep him from hitting the free agent market. His play seemed to regress a little that season, causing him to move back to right tackle in 2012.
The move back to right tackle in 2012 didn’t seem to help his regression and he split time with Jermey Parnell. Sharing playing time, Free still gave up seven QB sacks, five holding penalties, and seven false starts. After the season, he accepted a reduced salary in order to avoid being waived.
In 2013, his play improved and he once again became one of the more consistent offensive lineman on the team.
In 2014, he struggled with injuries and missed a total of seven games, including two playoff games. He would end up having off-season surgery to help repair a stress fracture in his left ankle.
On March 7, 2015, the Dallas Cowboys re-signed him to a three-year $15 million contract. He started all 16 games at right tackle, but led the team with nine penalties.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Doug Free to a three-year $15 million contract extension with $6 million guaranteed on March 7, 2015. Free will make an average of $5 million per season. This contract makes him the 12th highest-paid of 91 right tackles in the NFL.
In 2016, Doug Free’s base salary is $4 million with a cap hit of $5,500,000. In 2017, his base salary is $5 million and he has a cap hit of $6,500,000. He will become a free agent after the 2017 season and the Dallas Cowboys are likely to move on and find someone to replace him at right tackle.