Free-agency review: Cowboys

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
10:56
AM ET
» NFC Free-Agency Review | AFC Free-Agency Review

Most significant signing: It has been a slow start to free agency, but defensive end Jeremy Mincey offers the most hope for at least right now as the Cowboys negotiate with Henry Melton and Jared Allen. He signed a two-year deal worth a maximum of $4.5 million and has the ability to play all across the defensive line in passing situations. It’s hard to call the additions of defensive tackle Terrell McClain and quarterback Brandon Weeden significant additions.

[+] EnlargeCowboys' DeMarcus Ware
AP Photo/LM OteroDeMarcus Ware is the Dallas Cowboys' all-time leader in sacks.
Most significant loss: DeMarcus Ware had only six sacks in 2013 and Jason Hatcher led the Cowboys with 11. Both are now gone. The Cowboys released Ware, who has since signed with the Denver Broncos, and Hatcher signed a four-year, $27.5 million deal with the Washington Redskins. Because of what Ware meant to the team for so long -- he is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks -- he is the more significant loss. Hatcher had one year with more than 4.5 sacks. In a down year, Ware had six. The Broncos are betting Ware has plenty left in the tank by guaranteeing him $20 million over the next three years.

Biggest surprise: It is not really a surprise the Cowboys lost Hatcher, even if it is to a division rival. What is a surprise -- at least so far -- is that the Cowboys have maintained the discipline financially. They were not going to pay Ware or Hatcher the kind of money they received on the market. They were not going to pay Julius Peppers what he got from the Green Bay Packers. What in the name of Jerry Jones is going on around here? Of course, all that could change if they shell out big cash for Melton or Allen.

What’s next? The Cowboys know they must address their defensive line, but it looks as if they will do it at their price. It might cost them in the short run, but help in them in the long run when it comes to being in good shape in the future against the cap. They would like Melton and/or Allen, but if they were not going to go crazy for Ware and Hatcher, they can’t go crazy for those two. As free agency wears on they could look for help at wide receiver or safety, but they will spend most of their time getting ready for the draft.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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