Don’t get me wrong… Jason Hatcher was one of the lone bright spots of this Dallas Cowboys defense in 2013. Many thought the switch to the 4-3 defense would run Hatcher out of town. But, Hatcher excelled as a 3-technique in 4-3 scheme. The Grambling State product had 11 sacks and two forced fumbles in his best year as a pro. Because of his career year, Hatcher was nominated to his first Pro Bowl last year.
It was reported that the nine-year veteran had a numerous amount of teams interested in him in free agency. The 40 front is used more than the 30 front, and Hatcher has proven that he could have a big role in both schemes. While it is tempting to bring back Hatcher, it should be known that his best year as a pro was during his contract year. Another thing is that Dallas may not be able to afford Hatcher and his services with a few other teams bidding for him.
The fact of the matter is that Hatcher will be 32 years old when the NFL seasons rolls around. As an undersized 3-technique, it is hard to last long. In fact, undersized defensive linemen just do not cut it in this league. Cowboy fans have seen this with Jay Ratliff who is now a a member of the Chicago Bears. Ratliff was an undersized nose tackle in Dallas’ 3-4 for seven years. Towards the end of his tenure in Dallas, Ratliff just deteriorated as a football player. He had a bunch of injuries that slowed him down, and he just wasn’t productive as he was earlier in his career.
The Cowboys need to be wise with their money, and there are better players in free agency that could make an even bigger impact on this team. Henry Melton has been linked to the Cowboys, and he is younger and simply more disruptive than Hatcher. Also, Melton has experience with Rod Marinelli from their days in Chicago. The Cowboys could also go after a wide receiver or even a linebacker. The Cowboys have expressed interest in Wesley Woodyard. Dallas needs to invest their money into younger players. That is something that has haunted the Cowboys in the past. It will be a tough pill to swallow, but the Cowboys cannot re-sign Hatcher in the coming days.
Ryan Ratty is a co-editor of SportDFW.com. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanRattyNFL