OTAs could mark Doug Free deadline

GRAPEVINE, Texas – While the Cowboys claim there is no hard and fast deadline surrounding the talks on a pay cut with right tackle Doug Free, the team has to take into account the possibility of injury as organized team activities start next week.

While the practices are non-contact, it marks the first time in the offseason during which the offense and defense go against each other on the field. San Diego linebacker Melvin Ingram suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday’s practice and could miss the season.

Before a rule change, teams would keep players they intended to cut on June 1 away from the offseason program to avoid injury, but teams can now designate two players as post-June 1 cuts prior to that date. If Free were to suffer an injury working out or in practice, the Cowboys would be on the hook for his $7 million base salary.

“I think we’re on the same page with (Free’s agent Jimmy Sexton) and Doug as far as the timing,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

Jones said there was nothing new to report regarding the talks with Sexton. Free is set to count $10.02 million against the cap and a new deal would create potentially as much as $6 million in cap room. The Cowboys could use the extra space to sign linebacker Sean Lee to a new deal. Lee is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.