- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – Whether Doug Free is a member of the Cowboys in 2013 or not, Baltimore might have come up with the price tag on whoever plays right tackle for the club this season.
The Ravens re-signed left tackle Bryant McKinnie to a two-year deal worth a maximum of $7 million, according to The Baltimore Sun. The maximum part of the deal comes in at a $3.5 million if he hits on whatever incentives or escalators in the deal, so the actual average of the deal is less than that.
The Cowboys can use the McKinnie deal in their discussions about a pay cut for Free or in potential talks with unsigned vets like Tyson Clabo and Eric Winston or any other semi-legitimate tackle available now.
If we are to believe Stephen Jones, then Free is the Cowboys’ top choice to play right tackle in 2013. He knows the offense and should be better in the second year under offensive coordinator/line coach Bill Callahan. He played better in the final month of last season when he split time with Jermey Parnell.
Free is scheduled to make $7 million this year. Clearly the Cowboys will not pay that and Free has to know there is not another team in the league that will pay him that. The question is whether he would be willing to take a cut to $3 million or so. The Cowboys’ question is whether they would offer Free a chance to earn back some of the money through incentives.
Clabo has a lot of fans inside Valley Ranch. He has received interest from some other tackle-needy teams, like Miami. The Cowboys made a call to Clabo’s agent after he was released by Atlanta to get a feel for what they were looking for. The same call was made to Winston’s agent, though there are fewer fans inside Valley Ranch for his services.
Winston is on record he is seeking $3-4 million to play. If that’s the case, then that’s too rich for the Cowboys and most likely a lot of teams. Clabo is better than Winston and would be more likely to receive something in that neighborhood.
But McKinnie’s deal would seem to help the Cowboys get their price on whoever they want to play right tackle this season.