INDIANAPOLIS – When executive vice president Stephen Jones kept the door open for Doug Free’s return to the Cowboys in 2013, it surprised some.
Given his $7 million salary, the team’s need for cap room and Free’s poor play in 2012, it seemed a given the team would move on.
Not so fast.
The Cowboys are considering using Free at guard after he started at left or right tackle over the last four seasons.
“We’re looking at it,” Jones said. “We’re going to un-turn every stone to get better. I wouldn’t rule him out at tackle either. He’s a pretty versatile guy. He’s smart.”
Free started every game at right tackle in 2012 switching sides with Tyron Smith. He led the NFL in penalties in 2012 with eight false starts and seven holding flags, but he played what Jones called “his best ball of the year,” after moving to a platoon with Jermey Parnell.
Could a full-season rotation work?
“No one has ever done it but it didn’t mean you can’t,” Jones said. “But I think at some point someone would win the job.”
While the Cowboys liked what Parnell did in 2012, they have some questions about his ability to start a full season. Free would not appear to have correct build to play on the interior but the Cowboys have said they need more from last year’s free-agent pickups Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. On Saturday owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys would like to add a guard/center type in the draft.
“The bottom line is we have two guys who make me sleep at night at right tackle,” Jerry Jones said. “So I don’t know now what you do if all of a sudden you try to move one inside and change positions there.”