The Dallas Cowboys still don’t have a final answer on right tackle Doug Free or at least one they are ready to accept.
Free has indicated that he plans to retire.
And the team is operating like he won’t be part of their plans next season.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones says that’s the main reason the Cowboys signed free agent tackle Byron Bell last week.
The Cowboys are hoping 2015 third-round pick Chaz Green will seize the starting job as Free’s replacement.
Bell is on the roster to push Green.
Left guard La’el Collins will be looked at as option at right tackle to increase the competition and get the best five players on the field.
“Chaz is what we hope happens,” Stephen Jones said. “The best way to get the most out of people is to create competition. I think we have that now with Bell. We have some guys in there who can compete. But when you pick an offensive lineman in the third round, the hope is for a third-round player to develop into a starter. It’s Chaz’s time. Nothing to believe he won’t other than availability.”
Availability is a big issue for the oft-injured Green, who has played in only four games the past two years.
He did not play as a rookie because of hip surgery.
He got two starts in 2016 in place of injured left tackle Tyron Smith and played well. But he suffered a foot injury that kept him out of action and then while rehabbing the foot, he developed a back issue resulting in him having surgery to repair a herniated disc.
His ability to recover and stay healthy concerns the Cowboys.
Green missed his junior season at Florida with a shoulder injury. So he has played a full season once over the past four years.
That’s why they signed Bell, who has 72 career starts over the past five seasons.
And it’s also why they will give Collins reps at right tackle during training camp, Jones said.
Jonathan Cooper, a former first-round pick, gives them depth at guard, allowing them to possibly look at Collins at tackle.
“We like the way he played at guard,” Jones said of Collins at tackle. “The goal right now is to find a good right tackle and he plays great at guard. But that is not out of the question. We could look at that some point. It wouldn’t surprise me if you see him get reps at tackle in camp.”