With Henry Melton scheduled to meet with the Dallas Cowboys, he has become their most significant potential free agency acquisition. Melton has drawn attention from multiple teams which could drive his price up. However, Melton will surely be cheaper than other defensive lineman such as DeMarcus Ware, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen and even Jason Hatcher. Melton’s affordability is the main reason the Cowboys can strongly consider him.
Even if the Cowboys manage to land Melton at an affordable price it would be a mistake to give him anything more than a two to three-year contract. In letting Ware and Hatcher go, the Cowboys have become significantly younger. While Melton is younger than both Ware and Hatcher at 27 years old, there no reason for the Cowboys to sign him into his 30s.
Melton can offer some much-needed immediate relief to the defensive line. His relationship with Rod Marinelli brings even more optimism as Melton’s best years were under him with the Chicago Bears. While it can’t be expected that Melton will break out and have a dominant year, he’s the kind of player who will be productive under Marinelli.
While Melton would be able to have an immediate impact, as soon as he gets into his 30s it can be expected that the production will significantly reduce. The Cowboys are so desperate at defensive line they do not have enough personnel to be able to focus entirely on the future. This is a problem that will be fixed in the draft. Two to three years from now, the Cowboys will have had the opportunity to develop multiple young defensive lineman alleviating the need for Melton.
The state of the Cowboys’ defensive line can benefit greatly from any significant contributor. Melton is the kind of cheap option that will allow the Cowboys to develop and draft the necessary personnel to give them a formidable defensive line in years to come. Melton will no longer be needed once the Cowboys have had this chance to develop, and given that he is approaching 30 there’s no reason to commit for more than a couple years even at a cheap price. The Cowboys need to look at Melton as a strictly short-term solution while looking to the draft to solve the long-term problems.