Dallas Cowboys

March 14, 2014

Cowboys lose Herring, target Melton, interested in Weeden

Julius Peppers and Jared Allen also remain on Dallas’ wish list if the price is right.

DeMarcus Ware signed with the Denver Broncos on Wednesday, and Jason Hatcher departed for the Washington Redskins on Thursday. On Friday, the Dallas Cowboys lost a player they never even had.

Will Herring returned to free agency less than 24 hours after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Cowboys. Since the former Saints linebacker and core special-teams player had not signed the deal, the Cowboys decided to walk away.

The Cowboys, with only some $7 million in salary-cap space, have not made a splash in free agency. Their only signings so far have been for career backups Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain.

Mincey and McClain join eight other defensive linemen on the roster, with the 10 having combined to play in 268 games, making 457 tackles and 39.5 sacks. Ware and Hatcher combined to play 260 games with 779 tackles and 144 sacks in their careers with the Cowboys.

The Cowboys also could lose defensive end Anthony Spencer, a free agent after two years with the franchise tag.

Dallas does have a visit scheduled with defensive tackle Henry Melton, according to a source, but the former Grapevine star will have to get out of Seattle without a contract to make it to Valley Ranch. He also visited the Vikings but left there Friday still a free agent and on his way to Seattle.

The Cowboys also have interest in defensive ends Julius Peppers and Jared Allen if either of their price tags come down, according to a source. But both expect to command more money than the Cowboys can pay.

Melton, though, could replace Hatcher as the 3-technique tackle in their Tampa 2 defensive scheme.

It is the position Melton played for Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli when Marinelli was defensive coordinator of the Bears. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 playing for Marinelli.

The Bears franchised Melton last season to keep him, and he made $8.5 million with the tag. But Melton, 27, played only three games because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

In four seasons, Melton has 15.5 sacks.

The Cowboys also have interest in quarterback Brandon Weeden, especially if Kyle Orton decides to retire.

The Cowboys expect a decision on Orton soon, but they believe he will have a hard time walking away. Because of a renegotiated contract last year, Orton would owe $3 million to the Cowboys if he retires. Orton, 31, is scheduled to make $3.25 million in base salary this season.

Dallas has liked Weeden since the Browns made him the No. 22 overall pick in 2012. He is 30, but he has played only two seasons, with 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

The Cowboys, though, like Orton more, according to a source, and want him to return.

The Cowboys have not carried three quarterbacks on their 53-player roster since 2011, when Stephen McGee served as a developmental prospect after the Cowboys made him a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft.

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