Now that DeMarcus Ware is officially gone and Jason Hatcher might as well be, the Dallas Cowboys must move forward with some sort of plan on how to re-fill their depth chart at defensive end. Early speculation is they’ll target Henry Melton, who missed essentially all of last season due to a torn ACL, although he was under the Chicago Bears’ franchise tag. Put simply, Melton would be a superb signing for the Cowboys, but only if they can afford him.
Cutting Ware saved Dallas $7.4 million in cap space, although he’ll still count almost $9 million against it this year in dead money. That means the team has almost $10 million cap space and that number will increase to $15 million once Miles Austin is officially designated as a post-June 1 cut. However, signing a player like Melton, who is drawing more interest than expected despite his injury, would likely require more cash than that, or he would have to be signed to a backloaded contract, which is something Dallas must avoid at all costs moving forward.
The common opinion among Dallas beat writers is that the team must replace Ware’s production with multiple low-cost players, but that’s unrealistic. Sure, George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford and however they bring in may combine for more sacks than expected, but all of those players combined won’t draw nearly the defensive attention that Ware did and will with his new team. Melton isn’t nearly to Ware’s level in that respect, but he’s certainly more valuable than anyone currently on the Cowboys’ roster.
Melton’s ties to Texas are strong, which makes the rumor mill generate even faster as it pertains to him possibly signing with the Cowboys. He played his high school ball at Grapevine and college ball at Texas and he’s played for Rod Marinelli, which sweetens the deal if he’s willing to play for the Cowboys’ likely lowball offer. That’s being very optimistic but that’s all Cowboys fans can be at this point.