Cowboys agree with Henry Melton

Updated: March 19, 2014, 9:19 PM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPN.com

IRVING, Texas -- Having lost Jason Hatcher to the Washington Redskins last week, the Dallas Cowboys have reached an agreement with Henry Melton, reuniting the defensive tackle with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who coached him for three years with the Chicago Bears.

The Cowboys announced the signing on Wednesday.

"I'm excited to come back home and work with Rod and get back to my Pro Bowl form," Melton told ESPNDallas.com from St. Louis, where he was visiting Tuesday. "It's a great group of guys there and I've talked to them the last few days."

The deal has a $1.25 million base salary and could be worth up to $5 million. The Cowboys hold a three-year option after the 2014 season. If he is on the roster the first day of the 2015 league year, he'll get $9 million guaranteed on the team's option, which averages $8 million per season. If the team does not pick up the option after the season, Melton would become a free agent.

Melton played in only three games last season with the Bears before suffering a torn left ACL against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He received the franchise tag in 2013, which paid $8.45 million.

He visited with the Cowboys on Monday and was with the Rams on Tuesday. He also visited the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks.

"Every team I visited, everything checked out and everything looked good," Melton said when asked if teams were concerned about his knee.

Melton was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012. He has posted 15.5 career sacks and 71 tackles, including nine stops for lost yardage.

Hatcher, who led the Cowboys in sacks in 2013 with 11, signed a four-year, $27.5 million deal with the Redskins. His departure cranked up the Cowboys' need for a three-technique player. Melton is the third defensive linemen the Cowboys have added in free agency, joining Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain.

Bears general manager Phil Emery expressed a desire to re-sign Melton for 2014 but also voiced concern about the defensive tackle's commitment to football. As Melton worked through the rehabilitation process, he was arrested in December for assault and public intoxication, stemming from an altercation with a bartender in his hometown of Grapevine, Texas.

ESPN.com Bears reporter Michael C. Wright, ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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