Oct 1, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton (69) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) during the first quarter at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Last month, I wrote a three part series discussing the Cowboys and their free agency plan of action. At that time, Dallas was actually over the cap quite significantly. As expected, through extensions, restructures and releases, the Cowboys were not only able to get themselves under the cap, but did so fairly decently. As of this writing, the Cowboys have over $11 million to spend towards the improvements of the roster for 2014.
Since we are now a week into the free agency merry-go-round, it seems to be a good time to review my suggestions for the offseason shopping period as well as discuss some of the releases and how to make up for the losses. Let’s start with the defensive line.
In my first bargain hunters piece, I suggested four possible options for bettering this unit. Here is where they are currently:
ROBERT AYERS – DEFENSIVE END
Ayers is still available and there was reported interest in him by the Cowboys all last week but no visits have been scheduled. I proposed a deal worth $4.5 million over two years prior to the Ware release and I don’t think I would up that any more, despite the glaring hole in the pass rush. Given that his career best sack total for a season is 5.5 and he has only 12 total, that figure seems more than fair.
MATT SHAUGHNESSY – DEFENSIVE END
Shaughnessy re-signed with the Arizona Cardinals on a two-year deal worth $4.4 million. This was spot on with my assessment as the ceiling offer I suggested was two years and $4.5 million. With the release of DeMarcus Ware and the only “proven” edge rusher on the team being George Selvie, another energy guy like Shaughnessy looks even better now. Alas he’ll be back in red, white and black.
HENRY MELTON – DEFENSIVE TACKLE
The apple of everyone’s eye these days, Melton actually had a visit yesterday with the Cowboys. No news indicated that a signing was imminent at the time of this write up. Melton not only represents the best available option on the defensive line but also a bit of a potential spark to any roster, especially the Cowboys. His familiarity with Rod Marinelli’s defense bought the Cowboys an opportunity to meet with Melton, even though he was with the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks all weekend. My initial offer of three years and $10 million may need to be improved to land him however. I think adding another $3-4 million would be fair but any more than $6 million may be too rich for the Cowboys blood.
PAUL SOLIAI – DEFENSIVE TACKLE
The huge Samoan received an equally huge payday thanks to the Atlanta Falcons. Soliai agreed to terms on a five year, $33 million contract with $14 million of that guaranteed. This was way more than I felt was sufficient for his services as I suggested three years and $13 million. The Falcons probably overpaid but also could afford to do so more than Dallas as they still have almost $10 million after this signing.
The Cowboys replaced the losses of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher by adding Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain to the roster. Neither one will actually “replace” the two who are now gone but they are warm bodies. Aside from that, the only other option out there for the line would be Jared Allen, whom I doubt is taking the minimal money Dallas can afford to not be anywhere close to a title chance. It appears the draft is the last rock to over turn in order to find significant help to this unit.