The Cowboys want right tackle Doug Free back, but it will have to be at the right price.
"I’d like to keep him," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday. "We think that Doug Free can be an important part of the team. He’s been here. We know him. We think that with what we’re doing in other parts of our offense, certainly in the offensive line, that this will bode well for him. So we think he can really be an asset to us."
Free would not talk about the Cowboys' request for a renegotiation at a team charity event Wednesday. But Jones confirmed the Cowboys have asked Free to take a pay cut from the $7 million salary he is scheduled to make. (Free currently is slated to count $10 million against the salary cap.)
"It’s no secret that we’re trying to renegotiate the contract," Jones said. "But I think it’s a wrong assessment to say that anybody’s saying 'take it or leave it' or we’re at our wit’s end or those kinds of things. That’s just not the way I see it going."
Though Jones said the sides still are talking, the ball is in Free's court to decide his future.
Free had a team-leading 13 penalties, including five holds, and allowed seven sacks. He played better late in the season when he played in a rotation with Jermey Parnell.
Although the Cowboys likely would go after a veteran tackle -- Eric Winston is the biggest name still on the free-agency market -- if they move on from Free, Jones said Parnell is ready to take the next step.
"When you say the next step, if that implies is he getting better, yes," Jones said. "I think he is getting better. I think his arrow so to speak is going up. I feel good about where he is and the ideal place for the Cowboys is on the right basis is have them both."
-- Charean Williams