Cowboys keep Doug Free off the market

This time of year, stuff happens while you sleep. There's no shame in it, I don't think. Stuff happens 'round the clock, and you've got to sleep. So you do and the first thing you do when you wake up is you see what you missed.

FreeJohn Clayton forwarded me an email from Adam Schefter at 12:08 am ET. (John lives on the West Coast): "Dallas reached agreement on a four-year, $32 million deal that included $17 million in guaranteed money with offensive tackle Doug Free."

OK then. When I went to bed, word was the Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in some kind of bidding war for Free, who I imagine would have played right tackle in Tampa Bay opposite Donald Penn. But Free plays left tackle in Dallas, and this deal does not indicate the result of an especially frenzied bidding war. It's a very good one, in fact, for Dallas, which wanted to keep Free after his very good first season as its starting left tackle. It's enough years and money to reflect the Cowboys' opinion of him as a 27-year-old left tackle who's playing like one of the best in the league, yet it's not so much money that they'll end up feeling silly moving him back to right tackle if he doesn't play up to 2010 form and first-round draft pick Tyron Smith turns out to be a monster.

Dallas had a good first day, making judicious cuts and then locking up the offensive lineman it most needed to lock up. The Cowboys still need to sign guard Kyle Kosier and get to work on the defense, but a lot of fans will breathe easier with Free back in the fold.