Free has taken a beating from the media and fans for his poor to average play this season. Less than adequate strength and bad techniques have led Free to routinely being beaten throughout this season. Sunday, against what may be one of the best defensive lines in the NFL in the Bengals, would be a really good time for Free to have a good game. Or at least not a wretched game.
Although only 28, Free's time with the Cowboys appears to be less than secure. To release him, however, would cost around $8 million in cap space. But progress is progress, and Free has shown more regression than anything else.
If the Cowboys don't/can't spend big money on a right tackle, they may have at least someone to consider in backup Jermey Parnell. The third-year player out of Ole Miss has started once this season in place of Tyron Smith at left tackle. At 6-foot-6, 305 pounds he has the size to do the job. Whether he can actually do it, and do it well, remains to be seen.
"Jermey has done a nice job when he has gotten in there and played," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Thursday morning. "He's gotten better before our eyes. We have tried to use him in two tight-end situations all year long. That may not sound very significant but it's really significant for a guy who hasn't played very much for a guy to go out there in those critical situations.
"To be honest with you, early on in the year, he didn't handle it very well. We felt like it was important to persist with that. He's gotten better and better. He's really improved."
Not sure if Parnell is a long-term alternative at right tackle, but given how Free's season has evolved the Cowboys have to begin considering different alternatives.
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