After all the negative talk in the DFW area, the Dallas Cowboys pleasantly surprised their fans on Tuesday by signing free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton to a one-year contract with a three-year team option. He can make up to $5 million in salary and bonuses in 2014 and gets $9 million guaranteed if he’s on the active roster in 2015. Melton played for the Chicago Bears and was a solid member of their defensive line before tearing his ACL in 2013. Dallas is obviously optimistic the Fort Worth native will return to form in 2014 as the anchor of Rod Marinelli’s defensive line and the one-year, “prove it” deal with incentives for both sides seems perfect for this unique situation.
Melton’s ties to the DFW area as well as his history with Marinelli undoubtedly benefited the Cowboys during the negotiation process. This was made evident by the fact he left Valley Ranch to go visit the St. Louis Rams and still ended up signing with Dallas, despite the major assumption the Cowboys had missed their shot once he originally left without a deal.
The Cowboys filled a major hole in their defensive line after Jason Hatcher departed via free agency and signed with the Washington Redskins. After Hatcher’s Pro Bowl season that included a career-high 11 sacks, many Cowboys fans and reporters alike wondered who would replace him in the starting lineup of a defense that was historically awful in 2013. Melton isn’t going to change that single-handedly, but he’s now by far the best defensive lineman on the Cowboys’ roster and his previous work with Marinelli bodes well for the future of the defense in Dallas.