ESPN's Adam Shefter reported earlier today that if and when a new CBA is put in place, players with 4, 5 and 6 years of service are expected to be unrestricted free agents. The limit had been moved from four years to six years under the provisions for an uncapped year in the old CBA, so this is simply reinstating the previous free agency rules.
This of course increases the free agent pool available to the Cowboys significantly. But it also puts the Cowboys in somewhat of a pickle with their own newly minted free agents:
LT Doug Free, DE's Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher as well as WR/ST ace Sam Hurd would have been restricted under the uncapped year rules but are now fully fledged free agents. The Cowboys had initially tendered Free with a first and third round compensation, while Bowen and Hatcher received second round tenders. That's all moot now.
Tim McMahon from ESPNDallas and Clarence Hill from the Star-Telegram both have stories up examining the situation in more detail, excerpts after the break.McMahon examines the situation at left tackle and notes that:
The Cowboys took a risk by not placing the franchise or transition tag on Free, who could have a lot of leverage when the lockout is lifted.
The Cowboys drafted USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick, selecting an offensive lineman in the first round for the first time during Jones’ 22-year ownership tenure. While Smith has the potential to play left tackle, the Cowboys drafted him to pair with Free, not replace the youngest member of the Dallas offensive line.
Clarence Hill looks at the defensive end situation, where the Cowboys are suddenly very thin:
The problem at defensive end is just as serious for the Cowboys, who just have one veteran end under contract in Igor Olshansky. The Cowboys had hoped to bring both Hatcher and Bowen back with the restricted free agent tender.
Now its possible they could lose both, as well as former starter Marcus Spears who is already and unrestricted free agent.
The Cowboys need to add at least two veteran players at the position whether its one of these three or a combination of one and someone from the outside.