He is the single most important signing that will allow this team to do anything this year. I think we all realize this and the problem is most of the other teams do as well. If we fail to resign Free and keep him wearing a star the results would be disastrous this year. Couple of reasons why:
1. Proven ability to excel at both tackle positions.
Yes, he only played one year at left tackle but he played it against some of the best that this league has to offer and either held his ground or completely controlled them. I think we have to assume the more he plays at that position the better he will become at it.
His best years are still ahead of him and he has yet to really hit his prime. These kind of players rarely make it to Free agency for a reason.
Yes, we could sign another tackle from another team that may actually even be better technically than Doug. How much better would they be for us tho? One of the biggest NEEDS among any offensive line is cohesiveness and trust. The best offensive lines know without even talking what each and every one of them is going to be doing. Tho we might be able to replace Free athletically, it wold take sometime before the offensive line was comfortable with the new addition.
Here are my biggest reasons:
With the replacement of Wade Phillips and the bringing in of the RKG's for Jason Garrett, the team needs to reward and keep those players that perform to the standard expected of them. I'm not talking about holding on to a player that has outlived his ability to contribute. No I'm referring to the fact that the players need to know the hard work they put in will be recognized. Players can look at Romo and see that he was undrafted and persevered to become the QB. Free was a fourth rounder that the Cowboys took the time to develop.
Loyalty runs both ways however. Free, if he is truly the RKG won't simply run off to the highest bidder. This is where
5. Trust comes into play
Free has to know that the Cowboy's are honestly trying to work towards a championship. That if he takes less money to stay here it is for the betterment of the team, not just less money out of JJ's pocket. He will have to trust JJ to take care of him later down the line. That a Dallas offer of "Fair Market Price" is actually the best thing for him. We all know how JJ does take care of those that prove themselves to this team.
There have been a few articles about being the RKG for Jason Garrett. Part of that mindset is the ability to sacrifice everything for the betterment of the team. If an Albert Haynesworth type of offer comes Free's way and he turns it down to stay here I think we will all know what kind of culture Jason Garrett is instilling in this team and we will be the better for it.