With Hatcher gone, Cowboys need to act

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
7:05
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Jason Hatcher is off to the Washington Redskins. The Dallas Cowboys are on the clock.

Hatcher received interest from the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans, but he settled on the Cowboys’ NFC East rival to call home.

[+] EnlargeHenry Melton
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastFree agent Henry Melton could be a good fit for the Cowboys along the defensive line.
It’s part of business. The Cowboys had a line they would not cross in re-signing Hatcher. He led the Cowboys in sacks in 2013 with 11. He played in his first Pro Bowl. He adapted quite well to the 4-3 system after spending the first seven seasons in a 3-4 scheme.

But he also turns 32 in July and never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season before last season.

Now it is on the Cowboys to find his replacement. Terrell McClain should not be viewed as a full-time answer. Neither should Jeremy Mincey.

Do the Cowboys now turn their attention to Henry Melton?

Melton excelled under Rod Marinelli with the Chicago Bears, but he is also coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He’s also only 27.

At the NFL scouting combine last month, Melton’s agent, Jordan Woy, who also represents Hatcher, said Melton had just started running and should be good for training camp.

He played in only three games in 2013, but he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 with six sacks and two forced fumbles after coming up with a seven-sack season in 2011. He is the perfect three-technique Marinelli craves in this defense.

The Cowboys have said they will spend efficiently in free agency. They might have to spend quickly too because if they don’t sign Melton there is a drop-off in free-agent talent available, and they would be forced to grab a three-technique in the draft.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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