The Dallas Cowboys have salary cap issues. Regardless of what the cap turns out to be for 2015, the Cowboys will have to make some had personnel decisions if they want to keep both running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant. One of those decisions is at right tackle, where veteran starter Doug Free and up-and-coming backup Jermey Parnell are both headed to free agency.
The Cowboys almost certainly can't, or won't, keep both players. Do they keep the solid veteran incumbent in Free, a 31-year-old seven-year veteran? Do they let him go in favor of the 28-year-old four-year veteranParnell, who did a good job in five 2014 starts while Free was sidelined with an injury?
No matter what the Cowboys decide, could the offensive line-needy New York Giants benefit?
Could they sign Free to start at right tackle and kick Justin Pugh inside? Could they sign Parnell for the same reason, or to be a swing tackle backing up on both sides?
We asked Dave Halprin, editor of Blogging The Boys, for thoughts on both players.
"Doug Free has had an inconsistent career with Dallas. Early on, injuries held him back, but when he eventually broke into the starting lineup he put in some good years. Then he signed a big contract and his play slipped. The Cowboys eventually had to ask him to take a pay-cut down to $3.5 million for a couple of years or they were going to release him. He bounced back and was having a very good season until injury sidelined him again. He was working well in tandem with guard Zack Martin in the running game, he gets pretty good push and is nimble enough to get to the second level or loop him outside for a sweep. He can be beaten on the pass rush by very quick defensive ends, sometimes he reaches and gets out of position or his kick-step back is too slow. The Cowboys are probably going to make an effort to re-sign him, they like the job he did in the running game and they would like to keep continuity along their offensive line. But with Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and a couple of linebackers high on their list to re-sign, they might have to save the money."
Jermey Parnell [Joe Robbins -- Getty Images Sport]
"Parnell was a reserve until he had to fill in for Free over the last seven games of the season. He held his own in that audition, although a slow down in the running game coincided with his presence. He was very good at protecting Tony Romo in the passing game, but there has been speculation that he wasn't quite the run-blocker as Free. But, he definitely played like a starter in that short audition, enough so that the Cowboys might be considering keeping him over Free because he is younger and has greater upside since he's still got room to grow. We've never seen Parnell over a full season, so there is still doubt about how he would do, but he looks capable."
If you are a Giants fan, you know about Free. You have watched him for years. He's a good, but far from great, right tackle. Could he help the Giants for a year or two? Parnell had a +8.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 388 snaps (+3.4 in pass protection, +5.3 in run blocking) and did not allow a sack.
Are you interested in either player, Giants fans?