Josh Ellis from the mothership writes that the Cowboys will use restricted free agent tenders to protect the rights of their fifth- and sixth-year players. The situation is complicated slightly by the uncertainty over what exactly constitutes a free agent right now. Under the rules in effect for the 2010 season, Doug Free, Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher and Sam Hurd would be restricted free agents this year. Under the previous free agency rules, they would all be free agents.
Bowen, Hatcher and Hurd were already tendered last year, and could be tendered again this year, as they have less than six accrued seasons. Assuming they all receive a 2nd round tender as they did last year, they would each receive a tender worth at least $1.935 million, or a 10% increase over their $1.759 million salaries from the 2010 season.
Free is likely to receive a 1st and 3rd round tender worth at least $3.168 million, the same deal Austin got last year. It was enough to protect Austin from other teams, will it be enough to keep Free in Dallas?
According to ESPNDallas, five more players are restricted free agents: Alan Ball is likely to get a right-of-first-refusal tender, Bryan McCann and Jesse Holley are exclusive rights free agents, Leon Williams and backup quarterback Chris Greisen will not receive tenders.
The Cowboys tendered eleven players in 2010. Four were eventually released or traded (Patrick Watkins, Pat McQuistan, Cory Procter, Duke Preston), and only one, Miles Austin, was signed to a long-term contract.