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Sources Say Cowboys Deal With Free Is Done

Mike Fisher for 105.3 The Fan | CBSDFW.com
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 Mike Fisher is an award-winning newspaper journalist, the author of...
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IRVING (105.3 THE FAN)  – Doug Free moved briskly on Thursday at Valley Ranch, shifting from the weight room in the morning to the front office in the noon hour to back in the Dallas Cowboys’ good graces when in the early afternoon he accepted the club’s offer to cut his salary in half.

As first reported by 105.3 The Fan, the beleaguered right tackle Free agreed to a reduced two-year contract that guarantees him $3.5 million for 2013 and has a similar (but unguaranteed) salary in 2014. This is an escape from Cap Hell for the Cowboys, who were once on the hook to pay Free $7 million for 2013 as part of a four-year, $32-million contract he signed in 2011.

Had Dallas cut Free, it would’ve taken a cap hit of approximately $4.5 million for each of the next two years – and would’ve had to hire a replacement like free agent Eric Winston at an additional cost.

Two years ago, Free showed the promise that earned him the big contract while playing left tackle. He was at right tackle last year and struggled so much that for the final month of the season he split snaps with prospect Jermey Parnell.

The move – which may free up $3.5 million under the cap this year as the Cowboys turn their focus to an extension for linebacker Sean Lee – came to a head this week in anticipation of next Tuesday’s start of OTAs. The Cowboys had no intention of leaving the $7 million price tag unchanged, for in the event of a Free injury, the club would be on the hook for that number.

Instead, Free made the move through the team’s headquarters, taking care of football business, then taking care of financial business … and now needing to pull his $3.5 million worth of weight.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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