Dallas Cowboys: Flozell Adams

Romo happy Dallas building through line

May, 22, 2014
May 22
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IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo never really sweated the possible selection of Johnny Manziel by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the draft.

He was more than happy to see the Cowboys select Zack Martin in the first round. That gives Romo three first-round picks up front in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and Martin. It also had him remembering what it was like early on in his time as the Cowboys’ starter.

“When I first started playing we had some pretty good players that did some really good things for the organization, and I think we’re building that back to that point,” Romo said.

In 2006, left tackle Flozell Adams and center Andre Gurode made the Pro Bowl. In 2007, the Cowboys signed Leonard Davis to a big contract and he made the Pro Bowl with Adams and Gurode. Right tackle Marc Colombo and left guard Kyle Kosier were solid players as well.

In 2011, the Cowboys dismantled the line, cutting Gurode, Davis and Colombo and started the rebuilding process by drafting Smith with the ninth overall pick.

“As a quarterback, that half-second, that tenth of a second can make the difference in completing a pass or not,” Romo said. “A lot of that is dictated as to whether or not you have that extra time. I think it goes to show the organization is building through the lines and that’s the way you win in the National Football League late in the year.”

Cowboys done with OL rebuild

May, 14, 2014
May 14
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IRVING, Texas -- Pam Martin asked her son to do some research on the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line, so the team’s first-round pick dutifully did what his mother told him.

Zack Martin quickly realized he was older than Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, the other two first-round picks Martin will join on the line in 2014. Smith, the 2011 first rounder, was born Dec. 12, 1990. Frederick, the 2013 first rounder, was born march 18, 1991.

Martin was born Nov. 20, 1990.

[+] EnlargeZack Martin
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsNotre Dame's Zack Martin is the latest first-round pick Dallas has added to its young offensive line.
“That’s a little weird,” Martin said.

Weird and potentially terrific for the Cowboys. Before Smith, Jerry Jones never used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Tom Landry, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt also kept their distance from the offensive line. Before Smith, Howard Richards was the most recent first-round offensive lineman, coming in 1981 with the 26th overall pick.

Now the Cowboys are like the San Francisco 49ers with three first-round starters on the offensive line. In 2007, the Niners took Joe Staley. In 2010, they added Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis.

“We believe games in the National Football League are won up front,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you look at the best teams in the league now and for a lot of years, they are able to control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. We did that for years here when we won championships here in the ‘90s. You need to build the infrastructure of your team.”

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Who will lead the Cowboys in sacks this season?

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San Francisco went 6-10 in 2010, but has gone 36-11-1 in the past three seasons. They have played in three straight NFC Championship Games, making it to the Super Bowl in 2012.

“We’ve been pretty lucky getting (Andre) Gurode, getting the Flozell Adamses and Larry Allens (in the second round), but those days are over apparently,” Jones said. “So we want to get some of that quality in the future offensive line. These guys are long-term players that are good, and all of that is about franchise.”

The Cowboys have an offensive line that can grow together.

Smith made his first Pro Bowl last season and is the best young tackle in the NFL. Frederick started every game as a rookie and cemented the interior of the Cowboys’ line. Martin will be a Day 1 starter and was considered the safest pick in the draft.

Right tackle Doug Free is the oldest up front and is just 30. Ronald Leary recently turned 25. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who could still compete for a starting job, is just 28.

Having Smith, Frederick and Martin grow together should make everyone associated with the Cowboys’ offense happier, from Garrett to passing game coordinator Scott Linehan to assistant head coach Bill Callahan to quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray.

The selection of Martin ends the rebuilding of an offensive line that started in 2011 when the Cowboys parted ways with Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. A year later they said goodbye to Kyle Kosier.

It took time.

In 2011, the Cowboys started a seventh-round pick, Bill Nagy, at left guard and a second-year undrafted center in Phil Costa. When Nagy got hurt, they looked to journeymen Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery.

Smith played as a rookie at right tackle and needed 2012 to be seasoned as a left tackle. Nate Livings was signed as a free agent in 2012, but injuries led the team away from him last season. Bernadeau’s play improved last year after he re-took the right guard spot following Brian Waters' season-ending triceps’ injury.

“We are going to be a better offensive line, a better offense, and we will probably play better defense the better we play on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “We will be able to run the ball better and control the football a little more.”
IRVING, Texas -- Last April, the Cowboys traded down in the first round and selected center Travis Frederick.

He took over the starting job in his rookie season and gave the Cowboys confidence that he will maintain in that spot for several seasons.

Martin
On Thursday night, the Cowboys made not only what was a considered a safe pick, but drafted someone whom Jason Garrett called, "a damn good football player" in tackle/guard Zack Martin.

So now Martin will compete at one of the two interior offensive line positions and try to do what Frederick did: earn a starting job.

"I'm looking to come in here and compete and I want to come in there and compete from day one," Martin said. "So obviously, I want to come in there and be on the field and help the team win, so yeah, that's my goal."

It's a realistic goal for Martin because the Cowboys need youth and talented players for the offensive line.

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What grade would you give the Cowboys' first-round pick Zack Martin?

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Garrett said Martin brings a versatility to the offensive line where he can play all five positions but in 2014 he will be asked to play guard. Garrett didn't say which guard spot Martin will play. It's assumed he can pair up with Doug Free on the right side. Martin played left tackle in college, but in the pros learning from a veteran such as Free could be important to his development.

"He played inside at the Senior Bowl," Garrett said of Martin. "He did a very good job there. People believe he can play center. A lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line, so initially we're giving him the chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there. Very favorable from the Senior Bowl in working inside. He does have position flex, a lot of experience playing outside and we can see he can play across the board on the offensive line."

This team is trying to get younger along the offensive line and expects draft picks to contribute quickly.

It's not depending on finding gems such as Andre Gurode (second round, 2002) or Flozell Adams (second round, 1998) in the draft to emerge into starters.

Finding solid players in free agency such as Leonard Davis and Kyle Kosier is not guaranteed every season.

So now the Cowboys are hoping draft picks such as Tyron Smith (first-rounder in 2011), Frederick and now Martin will be strong players to protect a 34-year-old quarterback in Tony Romo.

"One of my biggest strengths, I think, is my versatility," Martin said. "Like I told them, I am willing to play anything they need me to do to help the team."

Tyron Smith will cash in big time

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
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IRVING, Texas -- Jason Peters already had the highest average-per-year salary for left tackles before signing a four-year extension with the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday.

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Entering the final year of his deal, Peters will now earn $51.3 million over the next five years with $19.55 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What does it mean for Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith?

Not as much as you would think, in my opinion.

Smith's deal should be much bigger than this whenever the Cowboys decide to sign their Pro Bowl left tackle to an extension. The Cowboys hold a fifth-year option on Smith's contract, which they must exercise by this spring.

The option is new to the collective bargaining agreement and will bring a whole slew of questions for teams and agents as they attempt to work out new deals.

The contract that Smith might be closer to matching is the seven-year, $84 million deal Joe Thomas received from the Cleveland Browns in 2011. That deal included $44 million in guaranteed money. Thomas, who many consider the best tackle in football, was 26 when he signed.

Smith does not turn 24 until Dec. 12. He is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance. He had his best season. He has fully acclimated to the left tackle spot after playing right tackle as a rookie in 2011. It is rare to find a player of Smith's age and ability who is closing in on free agency. He was 20 when the Cowboys picked him ninth overall.

Smith could be so good that he cashes in twice. Peters is 32 and received an extension that averages $10.26 million. Depending on the length of the deal Smith signs with the Cowboys, he could receive a second bite at the free-agent apple in his early 30s. Tackles can play well into their 30s. Flozell Adams was making Pro Bowls in his 30s while with the Cowboys.

Cowboys line could have continuity in 2014

January, 17, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Continuity is a buzzword every year when it comes to offensive line play. For the Dallas Cowboys it is no different.

The Cowboys could have continuity on the line in 2014 for the first time in a long time.

The last time the Cowboys returned the same line from the previous year came in 2008 when they had left tackle Flozell Adams, left guard Kyle Kosier, center Andre Gurode, right guard Leonard Davis and right tackle Marc Colombo.

Kosier played in only three games in 2008 because of a foot injury, but those five guys were in place at the beginning of the 2009 season when the Cowboys went 11-5 and made their most recent playoff appearance. Colombo missed seven games with a broken leg and Doug Free saw the first action of his career.

In 2013 four of the Cowboys five starters at left tackle, left guard, center and right tackle played every game. Mackenzy Bernadeau started 11 games at right guard and Brian Waters started five before his season ended with a torn triceps.

The Cowboys can go into 2014 feeling good about Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Free. The Cowboys could look to make moves at left and/or right guard with Ronald Leary and Bernadeau through the draft or in free agency but know they know what they have if they can't.

"It's never set in stone until it's done," Bernadeau said.

The line helped produce the first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 in DeMarco Murray and protected well enough with the interior more stout than it had been in previous years.

"I want to say it sets the standard for us," Bernadeau said of the late-season success with the running game. "It's one of those deals where we know what we're capable of doing and we want to do better. We have the highest expectations of ourselves. It's a mix of us getting it done up front and holding those expectations high."

Tyron Smith named second-team All-Pro

January, 3, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Last week Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. On Friday, he was named second-team All Pro by the Associated Press.

Smith
Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns and Jason Peters of the Philadelphia Eagles were named to the first team. San Francisco’s Joe Staley was the other second-team tackle.

Smith was playing as well as any tackle in football late in the season. He allowed only one sack all season and the Cowboys averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 53 runs behind their left tackle, which was seventh-best in the NFL.

A first-round pick in 2011, Smith has missed only one game in his career. He is signed through 2014, however, the Cowboys have an option for 2015 they need to exercise by the spring. The Cowboys want to sign him to a long-term contract at some point.

The Cowboys have not had a first-team All-Pro offensive lineman since Leonard Davis and Flozell Adams in 2007.

Only 23 years old, Smith still has plenty of chances to make the first team.

Cowboys must stick to draft board

April, 23, 2013
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IRVING, Texas – Let me start the post this way: I love Dan Graziano’s work. Somehow he keeps track of four teams in the NFC East and seems to be able upset fans of all four at the same time, so he’s doing something right.

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Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Cowboys and the upcoming NFL draft.

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But I think Dan is over the top in the view that the Cowboys must take an offensive lineman with their first-round pick. In today’s #bloggermock, Dan picked Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker with the 18th pick.

Fluker may well be the Cowboys' pick Thursday, but the vibe is they don’t have Fluker that high on their board.

Here’s what the Cowboys should do: take the best player regardless of the position.

If at No. 18 the Cowboys’ draft board has an offensive lineman as the 29th-best player -- and that’s not how they configure their draft board, by the way, but just go with it for now -- don’t reach on that player.

When you reach, you’re taking a lesser player and end up with a lesser roster overall.

In a draft that does not have the “sexy” skill players, I don’t see one of the team’s top line targets making it to No. 18.

The Cowboys have taken one offensive lineman in the first round since 1981 and that was Tyron Smith two years ago. They have found players like Larry Allen, Flozell Adams and Andre Gurode in the second round.

But the Cowboys' problems along the offensive line are not because they haven’t taken enough first-round picks. The problem is they can’t identify offensive lineman in the early and middle rounds where other teams have.

Despite the last year-plus, Doug Free (fourth, 2007) had a decent enough run, but the Cowboys have received nothing or next to nothing from David Arkin (fourth, 2011), Robert Brewster (third, 2009), James Marten (third, 2007), Jacob Rogers (second, 2004) and Stephen Peterman (third, 2004).

For months the Cowboys agonize over their draft board. They try to fit everybody in where they believe they should go. If you just skip that process on draft day, then you have wasted energy, time and money.

There is no doubt that the Cowboys have a need along the offensive line. There’s no doubt they should take an offensive lineman at No. 18 -- if he's the best player.

But “should” and “must” are two different things.

Here’s my must: stick to the board.
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IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys decision to place the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer for the second straight year makes some sense despite the $10.6 million cost.

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Randy Galloway and Matt Mosley discuss the Cowboys putting the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer and releasing Gerald Sensabaugh.

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One of the reasons is that the Cowboys might not have to pay Spencer $10.6 million at all.

Spencer’s agent, Jordan Woy, has a history of working out deals with the Cowboys, having done so with Flozell Adams a few years ago right before free agency started

But think about this option: trading Spencer.

Under the tag rules, a team would owe the Cowboys two first-round picks but they can work out a deal for substantially less.

Trading franchise players is not uncommon. Kansas City traded Jared Allen to Minnesota in 2008 for a first rounder, two third rounders and a swapped sixth round pick. Green Bay traded Corey Williams to Cleveland for a second rounder in 2008.

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ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the Cowboys cutting Gerald Sensabaugh in a salary cap move.

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New England traded Matt Cassel to Kansas City in 2009 with Mike Vrabel for a second round pick. In 2003, the Patriots traded Tebucky Jones to New Orleans for three picks: third and seventh rounder sin ’03 and a fourth round in 2004.

So what can the Cowboys get for Spencer? He is coming off a career-high 11 sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance. He is durable but he is 29. Teams don’t want to pay age and to get Spencer a long-term deal would have to be worked out for the new club.

Maybe they get a third-round pick in return.

It beats getting nothing - or a possible 2014 compensatory pick - in return, which is what the Cowboys would have received if they just let him walk.

At best the Cowboys get their best defensive player in 2012 on the roster in 2013 and at the worst they get a draft pick or two in return if they were to trade him.

For Tony Romo, the line has changed

April, 24, 2012
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IRVING, Texas – For most of his career as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, Tony Romo knew he would see Flozell Adams, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo in front of him on the offensive line.

Over the last three seasons, all of them have departed.

Adams was the first following the 2009 season. Gurode, Davis and Colombo were gone entering the 2011 season. Kosier was released earlier this offseason.

Romo’s 2011 tackles – Doug Free and Tyron Smith – will switch sides in 2012 and there could be a change at center depending on how the Cowboys work the upcoming draft.

In March, the Cowboys signed guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings to free-agent contracts.

“I think the coaching staff likes a couple of these guys,” Romo said. “Some of the guys I was with for a long run we had some great football and played in some great football games together and I’ll always be appreciative of Kyle and all those boys. And it’s kind of slowly the start of a new set of people up front.”

Earlier this offseason, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he made a mistake in changing the guard of the line so quickly and moving to a smaller, inexperienced interior. He felt that played with Romo’s thoughts about pressure up the middle.

“I just think you’re comfortable when you have a nice protected pocket,” Romo said. “At times you have that and you’re just always trying to get it to where that part of it feels good all of the time.”

As for the Free-Smith switch, Romo joked, “As long as people don’t touch you I don’t think it matters at all.”

Letting Kyle Kosier go is right move

March, 17, 2012
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It had to happen at some point.

Todd Archer reports the Cowboys will release veteran guard Kyle Kosier. He did a fantastic job for the Cowboys in his seven seasons with the team.

Kosier's health and age led to this.

He's 33 but he played the 2011 season with a nagging plantar fasciitis and suffered a torn ligament in his knee in the regular-season finale against the New York Giants. If the Cowboys had beaten the Giants, Kosier would have been unavailable for the postseason.

You had to wonder just how long the Cowboys wanted to stick with Kosier. He missed 13 games in 2008 with a foot injury and three more with a bad knee in 2010. Kosier would have played through all these things if the team doctors had let him.

He was a tough guy.

Kosier was the good soldier for the Cowboys, moving from his customary left guard spot to the right to help rookie right tackle Tyron Smith get used to the NFL game.

Kosier even thought about moving to center if it was necessary, though he never played it.

But the Cowboys want to get younger.

It's OK to have experience, but when you get in your mid-30s and play a demanding position like the offensive line, NFL teams begin to move you out.

Nothing personal, just business.

It was time.

One of the good things about Kosier was his presence in the locker room. Several of the younger linemen relied on him this season for advice about playing the offensive line. He didn't talk with the media much, but his respect in the locker room and in the media was secure.

You sometimes forgot about Kosier when Pro Bowls were being awarded to Leonard Davis, Andre Gurode and Flozell Adams over the years. Kosier was a steady presence who sometimes was overlooked.

Like we said, it's time to move on and if the Cowboys are going to improve as a franchise, aging vets must be sent home.

Nothing to show for 2008 shopping spree

March, 13, 2012
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Four years later, the Cowboys have nothing to show for all the cash they threw around during 2008.

Jerry Jones went on a re-signing spree that offseason, making major commitments to receiver Terrell Owens, running back Marion Barber, left tackle Flozell Adams, safety Ken Hamlin and cornerback Terence Newman. He gave receiver Roy Williams a rich extension after trading for him later that season.

The Cowboys cut ties with the last of those guys Tuesday, releasing Newman in a move that was about as surprising as opponents picking on him while the Cowboys lost four of their last five games.

Half of the Cowboys who cashed huge signing bonus checks from the Cowboys in ’08 weren’t even in the league last season. Barber and Williams were role players for the Bears, and Newman struggled as the Cowboys’ starting left cornerback.

T.O. was the first of the group to go from Valley Ranch. He got the pink slip – er, white tablecloth – after one controversy-packed, chemistry-killing season of his four-year, $34 million extension that included a $12.9 million signing bonus.

The Cowboys cut Adams and Hamlin two seasons into their six-year deals. Adams got $15 million guaranteed on a $43 million contract. Hamlin got a $9 million signing bonus on a $39 million contract. The Cowboys got an oft-penalized tackle and a non-playmaking safety.

Barber and Williams played three nonproductive seasons for the Cowboys after getting their rich contracts. Barber’s seven-year, $45 million deal included $16 million guaranteed. About half of Williams’ six-year, $54 million deal, which he signed before playing a down for the Cowboys, was guaranteed.

Newman played four seasons of his six-year, $50.2 million deal, which included $22.5 million guaranteed. He struggled much of the last two seasons, but Newman was still the best buy of the Cowboys’ ’08 shopping spree.

Miles Austin extension in cross hairs

March, 12, 2012
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IRVING, Texas – As ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, the Cowboys will be docked $10 million in salary cap space that can be spread out over the next two years for the structures of deals in the 2010 uncapped season.

According to sources in Schefter’s report, “the Cowboys and Redskins took immediate cap hits during the 2010 season that normally would have been spread out over the length of the contracts, giving them an advantage that other NFL owners found unfair.”

The Cowboys signed wide receiver Miles Austin to a six-year extension worth $54 million and paid him a $17 million base salary, which worked within the rules of an uncapped season. In a capped season, players are normally given large signing bonuses that are prorated over the course of the contract to come up with a salary-cap charge.

As part of the original deal, Austin was to receive a 2011 base salary of $8.5 million. The Cowboys created salary-cap room prior to last season by lowering Austin’s base to $685,000 and turning $7.855 million into signing bonus, which is a common practice by teams across the league.

The Cowboys did not sign a high-priced free agent of note in 2010 and the only veterans that were released prior to that season were left tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin.

Jerry Jones in Doug Free's corner

February, 25, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The conventional wisdom regarding the switch of tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free, which was announced Thursday by coach Jason Garrett, is that the Cowboys are disappointed in Free.

Free was credited with allowing 10 sacks in 2011 after signing a four-year, $32 million extension in August, but owner and general Jerry Jones is not down on Free.

“I think we’re too tough on Free,” Jones said. “Although he had 10 sacks against him I think in all of our criticism of that position, it’s going to be like cornerback and it’s going to get some of the best. But I think we’re too tough on him. He will get better.”

The Cowboys drafted Smith with the No. 9 overall pick last year with the idea he could move to left tackle eventually. Free broke into the lineup in 2009 at right tackle and performed well there after Marc Colombo suffered a fractured ankle. Free moved to the left side in 2010 when the club decided to part ways with Flozell Adams.

“I’m not at all dismayed by Free,” Jones said, “but we certainly want him to do better and let that sack total against him go down.”

Cowboys must rebuild Doug Free

February, 24, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cowboys’ decision to move Tyron Smith to left tackle in 2012 is something that was in the plans when they selected him in the first round last year, but it is not the cure-all for the offensive line.

There is no doubt Doug Free struggled last season. He was not as comfortable as he was for whatever the reason: the lockout forced a short camp, the pressures of a $32 million extension, the loss of technique and the loss of confidence.

But playing right tackle is no easy thing, especially in the NFC East.

Washington can throw Ryan Kerrigan (7.5 sacks in 2011) and Brian Orakpo (nine sacks) at either tackle. Philadelphia can throw Trent Cole (11 sacks) and Jason Babin (18 sacks) at either tackle. The New York Giants can throw Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks), Justin Tuck (five sacks) or Osi Umenyiora (nine sacks) at either tackle.

Outside the division, the Cowboys have to contend with Pittsburgh’s James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. Baltimore moves Terrell Suggs all over the field. Chicago does the same with Julius Peppers.

The adjustment to the right side should not take Free too long. He broke into the lineup there in 2009 after Marc Colombo suffered a broken ankle and showed the Cowboys he can play. The Cowboys felt comfortable enough the next year to let Flozell Adams leave via free agency and slide Free to left tackle. After the lockout ended the Cowboys gave Free the contract.

To me, the switch is more about Smith’s ability than Free’s lack of it but one of the top jobs facing new offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan is rebuilding Free.

Cowboys won't hurry use of franchise tag

February, 20, 2012
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IRVING, Texas -- Starting today teams can begin using the franchise tag, but do not expect the Cowboys to be in a hurry to place it on outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.

The deadline to use a franchise tag is March 5, eight days before free agency starts. In the meantime the Cowboys can talk to Spencer’s agents regarding an extension that would chew up less than the $8.8 million he would receive in 2012 as the franchise player or wait to see if potential free agent linebackers are tagged by their teams.

If the Cowboys use the designation, they would likely wait until the final moments, according to sources.

The Cowboys have used the franchise tag twice; on left tackle Flozell Adams in 2002 and safety Ken Hamlin in 2008.

There are similarities in the decision to tag Adams in 2002 and the one the Cowboys face this offseason with Spencer. At the time the Cowboys did not have a suitable replacement for Adams but were unsure whether he was worth signing to a long-term extension. He played the season out under the tag and Bill Parcells made Adams one of his priorities when he took over after that season. He went on to make the Pro Bowl five times from 2003-08.

Spencer, a first-round pick in 2007, has been solid but has never had more than six sacks in a season, however, the Cowboys do not have an in-house replacement ready. The free-agent market for outside linebackers is not considered strong.

If the Cowboys choose to tag Spencer, they would lose $8.8 million in cap space immediately but they could always rescind the tender and regain the space provided he did not sign. They could also make a trade, which would add that money back to the cap.

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