The Dallas Cowboys head into free agency with an abundance of needs, but low on capital because of their tight salary-cap situations.
But don’t misconstrue the team’s lack of funds for an inability or unwillingness to shop. The Cowboys will be active in free agency, which begins Tuesday. They plan to take their time and will be bargain-conscious.
The decisions they make with some of their own players, such as defensive ends DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, will also determine how they proceed.
For instance, if the Cowboys cut Ware, they will be in the market for a premier pass rusher and will open the checkbook.
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Look for the Cowboys to try to fill needs at defensive end, defensive tackle, receiver and possibly quarterback in free agency so they can genuinely head into the 2014 NFL Draft looking to take the best available player.
A few players who could be on the Cowboys’ radar:
1. Defensive tackle Henry Melton
Melton played under Rod Marinelli in Chicago and fits the Cowboys’ scheme perfectly. He is a local athlete who played at Grapevine High School and the University of Texas. He might come as a bargain because he is coming off knee surgery. He is a top-five talent at the position with 13 sacks in 2011 and 2012 combined.
2. Defensive end Michael Bennett
After spending a few years with Martellus Bennett, there is no way the Cowboys go after his little brother, right? Well, if the Cowboys don’t bring back Ware, they will need a top pass rusher. Bennett has 17 sacks in the past two years.
3. Defensive end Willie Young
He is a young, talented pass rusher in whom the Cowboys might want to invest for the future. Young only had six career sacks for Detroit in the past three seasonsbut is thought to be on the rise and could come at a bargain.
4. Wide receiver Robert Meachem
The Cowboys plan on cutting Miles Austin and could use a veteran receiver who can play in the slot as well as stretch the field. Meachem fits that bill, though Nate Burleson could be an even cheaper option. Burleson, formerly with Detroit, is familiar with new Cowboys play-caller Scott Linehan.
The Cowboys still don’t know if they will have Kyle Orton as a backup quarterback. He is mulling retirement. Hill is familiar with Linehan’s scheme from their days together in Detroit and would be a good fit.