#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.
Cowboys Receive 4th-Round Compensatory Pick in 2019 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys will receive an extra fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after the league awarded compensatory picks today.
The pick will be 136th overall, which is one spot below were Dallas drafted Dak Prescott in 2016.
And in other news... NFL awarded compensatory draft picks today - Patriots and Rams each received two third-round picks. The full list, per sources:
We have Anthony Hitchens to thank for this extra pick. The former Cowboys linebacker signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Chiefs last offseason which far surpassed any of the deal that Dallas made with their own free agent acquisitions.
Only free agents whose contracts expired, not those released in the offseason by their previous team, count towards the compensatory pick formula. Therefore, Allen Hurns' deal was not a mitigating factor.
As mentioned already, the fourth round of the NFL Draft recently gave Dallas its starting quarterback. Other notable fourth-round picks in the modern era have been Hitchens, Doug Free, Marion Barber, and Chris Canty.
Last year, Dallas drafted DE Dorance Armstrong and TE Dalton Schultz with fourth-round picks.
Already short their first and sixth-round picks this year from previous trades, the Cowboys are certainly happy to have this extra selection for April's draft.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Linebacker
One of the brightest spots on the Dallas Cowboys' projected 2019 roster is linebacker. The young pair of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have already emerged as one of the league's best duos. But that doesn't mean that the Cowboys have no work to do at the position this offseason.
Having Jaylon and Leighton does take a lot of pressure off. Most teams utilize their nickel scheme more than any other these days, which generally utilizes just two linebackers, in the increasingly pass-focused NFL. And thankfully, both Smith and Vander Esch have shown great skills in pass defense.
But there's still a semi-starting role to get figured out in the base 4-3 scheme. Damien Wilson has held the strong-side or "SAM" position for the last few years and has an expiring contract.
What's more, Dallas has a big decision to make regarding the contract of Sean Lee, which is ripe for terminating with $7 million in salary cap savings possible.
It's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would keep both Lee and Wilson. If they decide to re-sign Damien, Lee will be cut to help fund that move and others. If Sean is kept on, Wilson will almost surely be looking for a starting role somewhere else in free agency.
Even if the Cowboys do make Lee a cap casualty between now and March 13th, they may still allow Wilson to test free agency and then try to re-sign him later at a discount. He's unlikely to attract the same attention that Anthony Hitchens got last year.
Another factor in all of this is Joe Thomas, a free agent addition last year who provided good depth and could potentially start in 2019. He is scheduled to count $2.2 million against the cap, which is fine for a primary reserve but a bargain for an occasional starter.
A core of Smith, Thomas, and Vander Esch gives the Cowboys a good foundation to build from. Smith can play the SAM in the base scheme and Thomas can be the primary backup to Jaylon and Leighton in the nickel.
However, going that route would deplete the depth chart. Chris Covington, a sixth-round pick last year, would be the only noteworthy player under contract. Dallas would need to find at least two more guys to fill out the group for 2019.
They could look at re-signing backup Justin March-Lillard, who would at least bring some familiarity and veteran experience. But that might still leave them looking for more of a primary reserve, which would be especially vital if Thomas is promoted to a starting role.
The projected LB free agent pool for 2019 should make it a buyer's market. Dallas may be able to re-sign Damien Wilson or even add an upgrade, like perhaps the Vikings' Anthony Barr, at a relative bargain. There should be ample options for depth as well.
Barring an extremely favorable value opportunity, don't expect the Cowboys to spend a significant draft pick at linebacker. The fourth-round is the earliest I could see one going based on other needs, and even then it would need to be someone they really like.
Good drafting is why Dallas has flexibility and leverage this offseason. The picks they invested in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear to have made LB a strength of the team for the next several years.
There is still business to attend to, but the Cowboys won't have to be too concerned with linebacker in 2019 thanks to their young stars.
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.
Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.
Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.
The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.
Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas
Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.
Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.
The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.
Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.
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