Several sources reported Sunday night that the next franchise for free agent defensive end Jared Allen will visit is the Dallas Cowboys. Yhe five-time Pro Bowler is scheduled to meet with the team on Tuesday. Allen is fresh off a recruiting trip from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. There is no doubt that Dallas could use his services, as they lost All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware last week to the Denver Broncos. But can the cap-strapped Cowboys actually afford to sign Allen?
Prior the Ware’s release, the Cowboys were an estimated $1 million over the 2014 salary cap. His departure added $7.4 million to that cap number. Dallas then signed two free agents late last week, defensive end Jeremy Mincy and defensive tackle Terrell McClain, at an estimated combined cost of $1 million in cap space. Again, all of these number are just estimates as only the NFL and Cowboys front office know the exact figures. But the simple math tells us the Cowboys have about $7.4 million to spend in free agency right now.
Allen was suppossibly offered the exact same deal Ware got from the Denver Broncos: three-years, $30 million. But Denver opted to sign Ware over him. And now Allen has gone on record saying he would rather retire than play for anything less than his perceived worth. He made a mind-blowing $14.2 million last season as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. If Allen is looking for $10 million a year, Dallas would have to restructure more of their contracts and/or cut more of their players to make that happen. And I’m not sure just how many more moves the Cowboys have left to make.
And Dallas apparently isn’t done signing free agents either, so that $7.4 salary cap figure could be far less very quickly. Both quarterback Brandon Weeden and defensive tackle Henry Melton are scheduled to meet with the Cowboys later today. As Weeden would probably sign for the league minimum, Melton has likely started a bidding war between the Seahawks, the Vikings and the Cowboys for his services. Coming off an ACL injury and an arrest for alleged assault, it was thought Melton might come to Dallas at a bargain. That seems less likely now that there is so much interest in him. And there is also the very real possibility Melton simply re-signs with his previous team, the Chicago Bears.
It is more likely that both Allen and Melton offset each other in Dallas’ mind, as signing one would most likely negate the possibility of signing the other. But the Cowboys front office always seems to find salary cap room when they really need it, even if that means sacrificing the future to do so. So the idea that the two could play beside each other next season in Big “D” isn’t a total pipe dream.
The one thing the Cowboys have over other teams when it comes to both Allen and Melton is that Dallas is essentially their hometown. As for Jared, he already acts the part of being a “cowboy”. Right down to the cowboy hat and boots he often sports off-the-field. Allen is also a big fan of the rodeo, which is just another reason playing in Texas fits him so well. But when it comes to meeting his hefty salary demands, I’m not sure the Cowboys have enough money available to fill even half of that giant-sized ten-gallon hat. But stranger things have happened.