A week ago, the Dallas Cowboys said they had no knowledge of right tackle Doug Free planning to retire.
It was their understanding that he would retire in 2017 and fullfill the final year of his contract.
Well, they have a clear of understanding now of another hole they might have to fill in free agency and/or the upcoming NFL Draft.
Per source, Free, 33, has informed the Cowboys that he does indeed plan to retire.
Free would be the fourth starter to depart from the 2016 team that went 13-3 and won the NFC East, joining safety Barry Church, nose tackle Terrell McClain and guard Ron Leary.
La’el Collins is expected to replace Leary at left guard but he could also be an option at right tackle.
Chaz Green, the team’s 2015 third-round pick, is an option at right tackle as well. But he has battled injured the past two years and has not proven he can be counted on.
The Cowboys still have a line that features three Pro Bowlers in tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and guard Zack Martin. But the loss of Free is a setback heading into the 2017 season.
Free started 107 of 112 regular-season games from 2010-16, despite battling foot and ankle injuries the past two years.
The Cowboys save his $5 million base salary but he will count $2.5 million against the salary cap in dead money.