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Dallas Cowboys Unlikely To Retain Doug Free

With the NFL Lockout looking like it'll be lifted within the next seven days, teams will soon turn their attention to roster management. According to ESPN, the new CBA will not include first-right-of-refusal clauses for 2011 free agents, meaning that players such as Doug Free will be unrestricted free agents. 

Dallas did not place the franchise tag on Free, like the New England Patriots did with guard Logan Mankins, since that would have made Free's salary near 10 million dollars. 

Calvin Watkins at ESPN Dallas speculates that it will be difficult for the Cowboys to retain Free with the team already 18 million dollars over what the 2011 salary cap will likely be. 

Needless to say, it will be imperative for Dallas to try to find a way to keep Free. It's no secret that the offensive line has been a weak spot the past few seasons, and if Free leaves, it will become weaker. Dallas did use their first round pick on Tyron Smith, an offensive lineman from USC, but Smith is extremely raw. Starting Smith immediately not only will likely partially stunt his development, but he'll likely be a bit overwhelmed as well.

But hey - at least we're going to have football this year, right?

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.