Franchise tags for Cowboys are doubtful

The period to franchise players ends Feb. 25 and a few teams have already placed tags on several players.

Vincent Jackson, Michael Vick, David Akers, Logan Mankins and David Harris have been franchised.

The Cowboys have one player who could be franchised in left tackle Doug Free, but indications from team officials say he won't be. For that matter, at least for now, the Cowboys won't do it to any of their 13 free agents.

Free, who finished his fourth season in 2010, could make as much at $10 million if he were franchised by the Cowboys. It's doubtful the team would do this for a player, who was considered their best offensive linemen in 2010, who became a full-time starter at left tackle for the first time in his career. However, if Free is a restricted free agent, and that won't be determined until the new collective bargaining agreement is completed, the Cowboys would place a first-and-third round tender on him.

It was something they did with wide receiver Miles Austin before working out a long-term deal with him. Austin missed the first few days of offseason workouts last spring and didn't sign his tender until just before the deadline hoping a new contract would be worked out.

Free's agent, Jimmy Sexton, hasn't heard from the Cowboys on what might happen down the line.

The Cowboys, like most teams, would like to know the financial landscape in the NFL before making any significant moves. We all know the Cowboys want Free to be their left tackle for years, but the price they have to pay hasn't been determined.

What also complicates matters is the union and the league have opposing views on the franchise tag. The league says teams can do it, and they are, but the union says that's not possible without a new CBA.