IRVING, Texas – The visits are finished for the time being, and now the Dallas Cowboys will wait for further news from free agent targets Henry Melton and Jared Allen.
Allen commanded headlines today with a scheduled visit of Valley Ranch. The five-time Pro Bowler arrived in Dallas last night and spent today at the facility with Dallas Cowboys coaches and executives.
Familial obligations with his wife, who is expecting the couple’s second child, called Allen back to Minnesota, where he played six seasons with the Vikings. The visit reportedly went well, however.
Melton made his visit with the Cowboys, including his old defensive coordinator in Chicago, Rod Marinelli, yesterday. The 2012 Pro Bowler has been the most widely-discussed possibility to replace Jason Hatcher as the Cowboys’ three-technique defensive tackle since Hatcher signed a four-year deal with Washington last Thursday.
The former Bears defensive tackle moved on to a meeting with the St. Louis Rams today after spending Monday at Valley Ranch. All indications are that the visit went well, but it remains to be seen where or when Melton – widely considered the best defensive tackle left on the market – will decide to sign.
It’s expected that Melton’s availability would be one of the storylines of the offseason for a Cowboys defensive line that has been ravaged by injuries and departures. Melton tore his ACL in October of last season and has been preparing for free agency ever since. His connection to Marinelli’s time in Chicago, combined with the potential for a lower price tag because of the injury, made him a no-brainer for free agency speculation.
The courtship of Allen comes as a bit of a more surprising development – at least up until the past week. The 2004 fourth-round draft pick is one of the bigger names on the free agent market, and reports indicate he has been in contact with several teams. Given Allen’s pedigree, it seemed like too high of a price tag when the Cowboys already had an All-Pro in DeMarcus Ware.
Ware’s release and subsequent signing with the Broncos added even greater need for pass rushers on an already-thin defensive line, bringing Allen into the forefront.
The Cowboys have roughly $7 million in salary cap room following Ware’s release, which should give them the space to strike a deal with one or potentially both Pro Bowlers. The team has only added three free agents to this point in 2014 – journeymen defensive linemen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain, as well as quarterback Brandon Weeden, who was a first-round pick by Cleveland in 2012 before being released last week.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys remain in play for Jared Allen and Henry Melton
Two days ago, this was considered a big week for the Dallas Cowboys.
With visits on tap with defensive tackle Henry Melton and defensive end Jared Allen, it was considered a golden opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys to gain some off-season momentum and an improve their team for next year with free agents at key need positions.
Now that the visits are over, Melton and Allen both left without deals. The Cowboys remain unfulfilled though still clinging to a hard line they established last week when they cut defensive end DeMarcus Ware and let Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher bolt in free agency.
Signing guys at their price would come first and foremost over being fiscally irresponsible and possibly costing them against the cap in future years.
The visits went well, with Melton and Allen, and the Cowboys remain in play for both players.
Melton left his visit with the Cowboys and flew to St. Louis for a visit with the Rams. He visited the Vikings and Seahawks before coming to Dallas and is weighing offers from several teams.
Allen returned home to discuss the decision over with his wife. He visited the Seahawks before coming to Dallas. He must decide if he will take an offer with Dallas or Seattle, visit other teams or continue to wait.
The Cowboys remain interested in both players and made pitches how each would fit in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme.
The remaining question is at what price.
Melton, a Pro Bowler in 2012 with the Bears, is coming off season-ending knee surgery. His knee checked out fine with the Cowboys and he will be ready for the start of the season but not the start of training camp in late July. The latter is not considered something that would preclude the Cowboys from signing him, but it is something to consider when talking contracts.
Allen, an 11-year veteran, has averaged 14.5 sacks over the past seven seasons. But he will be 32 next season and is reportedly looking for a contract similar to the three-year, $30 million deal the Ware signed with Denver after being cut from the Dallas Cowboys last week.