Over on dcfanatic.com ( http://dcfanaticsblog.blogspot.com/ ) I listened to Tim MacMahon and Bryan Broaddus go through mock-negotiations for Doug Free. Tim played the role of Doug Free's agent and Broaddus played Stephen Jones (I'm assuming). While the mock-negotiations did get somewhat heated, I couldn't help but think to myself "would Doug Free and his agent ask for $10 million dollars" knowing full well that it would leave the organization in a bind when it came to filling in holes in other places.
Both men made compelling argument: Tim says that giving Free $10M a year is completed warranted because he's in the prime of his career, he doesn't have any injury issues/concerns and he doesn't have the off-field drama and baggage as other players around the league. The most compelling argument that I've found about the subject was what Free did last year against the premier pass rushers in the league (along with their salaries):
- Mario Williams: 6 years, $54M
- Dwight Freeney: 6 years, $72M
- Julius Peppers: 6 years, $84M
- Jared Allen: 6 years, $73M
Doug Free's stats against those guys, in 4 games: 1 tackle (assuming for a loss), 1 assist, 1 sack. That's better than average. MacMahon's point was that the premier pass rushers in the league not named Ware make significantly more than Free and he won the battle with them all and as such he should be paid at least in the neighborhood of these guys.
Broaddus' overall point was that if the Cowboys were to give Doug Free $10M a season it keeps us from filling in players that are of great need, preventing us from signing a Safety, a defensive linemen, another cornerback, etc. His offer was $35M over 5 years, saying that it's significantly more than what Free made last year under the tender offer and his rookie contract.
The debate goes on from there, but my question is, which one is right? I say split the difference, if in fact Free through his agent asks for $10M a year and what the team can afford is $7M, give him $8M - $8.5 because we can't argue with his production and the fact that he's in the prime of his career, but we also have to keep in mind that we have needs in other places and we'll need to have the financial flexibility to address the most glaring needs.