The Dallas Cowboys finally got their man, or one of them anyway.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton agreed to a one-year contract with a three-year club option with his hometown team Tuesday night, according to sources. The deal is worth up to $5 million in base salary and incentives in 2014 and includes a three-year club option averaging $8 million per year afterward. The option would include $9 million guaranteed in 2015.
The former Grapevine and University of Texas standout did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment, but he tweeted about his decision: “Thank you Chicago for the best 5 years of my life! ... I can’t wait to begin the next chapter of my life … With a star on my helmet.”
Melton’s arrival eases the sting of losing DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher on back-to-back days last week, though the Cowboys’ chances of landing another big-name defender diminished.
Defensive end Jared Allen left Valley Ranch without a contract Tuesday and returned home to discuss his options with his wife. The Cowboys have had little contact since, according to a source, and unless Allen reduces his asking price, it’s unlikely his career will continue in Dallas.
The Cowboys need all the help they can get after recording only 34 sacks last season and ranking as the third-worst defense in NFL history in yards allowed.
Melton, 27, visited Valley Ranch on Monday, and he had dinner with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Though he left for St. Louis on Tuesday without a contract, it didn’t take the Cowboys long to get him in the fold.
Melton weighed offers from several teams after visiting Minnesota, Seattle and St. Louis. The Raiders and the Bears also showed some interest.
Melton played only three games last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee, which required reconstructive surgery in October. The Cowboys, though, were comfortable with Melton’s knee and the progress of his rehabilitation.
He is not expected to be ready for the opening of training camp in July but should return in time for the start of the season.
Melton replaces Hatcher, who signed with the Redskins last week. He is familiar with both the Cowboys’ defense and the team’s defensive coordinator, having played the three-technique for Marinelli when Marinelli was defensive coordinator of the Bears.
Melton earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 playing for Marinelli.
The Bears used the franchise tag on Melton in 2013, paying him $8.45 million, but he was injured in the Bears’ 40-23 victory over the Steelers in Week 3.
In four NFL seasons, Melton has 71 tackles and 15.5 sacks.
Police arrested him in December on charges of assault and public intoxication after an altercation with a Grapevine bartender.
The Cowboys added Melton to two other defensive linemen in free agency, improving their depth with the signings of Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain last week.
Dallas lost a third free agent Tuesday when safety Danny McCray signed a one-year deal with the Bears. McCray was a core special teams player in Dallas and not considered an off-season priority. He had eight special teams tackles in 2013.
The Cowboys welcomed another new addition Tuesday, too, as quarterback Tony Romo’s wife, Candice, delivered the couple’s second son. Rivers Romo weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces. He joins Hawkins, who was born in 2012.