With NFL free agency less than a week away from starting, one of the teams expected to be on the sidelines are the Dallas Cowboys. But this weeks restructuring of contracts has placed Dallas is a position financially to be relatively minor players when the market opens next week. And in a recent article, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal thinks one former Chicago Bear would fit perfectly in Dallas’ depleted defense:
“(Defensive tackle Henry) Melton is hitting free agency after a torn ACL and an arrest. That’s poor timing. But he’s also hitting free agency in the same year that his former defensive coordinator (Rod Marinelli) and former head coach (Lovie Smith) get new jobs. That should help. Melton is more likely to follow Marinelli to Dallas. The Cowboys’ defensive line is thin, and Melton makes for a perfect replacement for Jason Hatcher, who looks likely to leave via free agency. Dallas always finds a way out of their cap issues, and Melton’s rough year should help keep his price down.”
Melton played in just three games for Chicago last season due to the injury to his left knee. Prior to that year his play earned the fifth-year veteran his first Pro Bowl bid.
A native of Fort Worth, Melton would be coming home to play for Dallas. And with the probable loss of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher to free agency and general poor state of the Cowboys current defensive line the team as a whole would benefit from Melton’s addition.
The biggest draw for Melton to land in Dallas is current Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Both teamed up in Chicago for Melton’s best years as a pro. Reuniting with his former coach, especially after his offseason issues, would make coming home to Texas doubly sweet.
Franchise tagged by the Bears in 2013, Melton was not tagged again this season as that deadline passed earlier this week to do so. That’s the first step. It appears now that Chicago will allow Melton to test free agency although they have publicly expressed interest in re-signing him.
The next step is the Cowboys have to get below the salary cap enough to sign Melton. In 2013, Melton made $8.45 million under the franchise tender. It is expected he’ll be asking for far less as he’s coming off an injury and an arrest. In late December, Melton was charged with misdemeanor assault and public intoxication for allegedly striking a employee after being asked to leave a Grapevine restaurant.