Everyone is ready to replace right tackle Doug Free with La’el Collins. Everyone, that is, except the Cowboys.
Free enters the final year of his contract, which will pay him a $5 million base salary and count $7.5 million against the cap.
Free, 33, has started all 16 games in seven of the past eight seasons. He allowed seven sacks and had three holding penalties last season, according to STATS.
Collins will return to his starting spot at left guard next season after spending most of last season on injured reserve. The Cowboys expect to lose left guard Ron Leary in free agency.
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“We’ve visited about [Collins playing right tackle],” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Obviously right now, we feel good about Doug coming back and being able to do that. But if Doug were to retire or not be around or if something happened to him, than yeah, we’ve visited about who would have the best chance to go outside of our inside guys. I think [Collins] would certainly be an option.”
Collins, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015, started at left guard his sophomore season at LSU before moving to left tackle his final two seasons in Baton Rouge.
He began his pro career at right tackle as a rookie in the Cowboys’ offseason program while Free was rehabbing from offseason surgery.
“Our projection is Doug is going to come back, and he’s our starting right tackle,” Jones said. “Obviously if we don’t get Leary re-signed, which will be difficult, then we see La’el as our starting guard.”