The Dallas Cowboys made a tough move by releasing DeMarcus Ware. It has been nine years that Ware has graced the Cowboys uniform. It will be a tough pill to swall for Cowboy fans as well as myself to see him in a different uniform. At the same time, the NFL is a business. When you’re paying a ton of money for a guy that’s not producing as he should be, you have to let him go. The Cowboys were interested in bringing the Troy veteran back on a smaller salary, but Ware declined the pay cut that the Cowboys offered him.
With the releases of Ware and Miles Austin, the Cowboys have freed up around $9 million in cap space. It is now no secret that the Cowbosy are interested in Henry Melton and Wesley Woodyard. Both are flying under-the-radar, and both could make a huge impact on this defense. By releasing Ware, it should go without saying that the Cowboys will draft a few defensive ends in this year’s draft.
One name to me that could be interesting is Julius Peppers. While he is not the same player he was on the Carolina Panthers, Peppers is still productive. This all depends on how much Peppers wants per year, but stranger things have happened with Jerry Jones as the owner/general manager. Dallas could still release Jermey Parnell and Justin Durant. If they decide to do so, this will free up another $3 million in cap space.
I believe the Cowboys have a better chance of signing Melton than Woodyard. If they do sign Melton, I expect them to give him around $5 million a year. This will leave them some space to sign another free agent as well. Peppers is no longer in his prime, but he is still a good starter. Like Melton, Peppers has experience with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli from their days together in Chicago.
Cowboy fans know that Jerry Jones will do anything for publicity. Signing Peppers would do just that. He has had an illustrious NFL career, and he still can produce for a defense. I wouldn’t mind a defensive line made up of Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Ben Bass, and George Selvie. Obviously, Bass is unproven. But the coaches have raved about his ability to make plays. Selvie is serviceable, and he’s just that. He won’t make a defense, but he sure won’t break one either. Drafting a player like Kony Ealy, Kareem Martin, or Aaron Lynch would do wonders for this defense.
In my opinion, the Cowboys are doing a decent job in free agency managing their cap space. They are taking the “wait and see” approach that many teams never do. The Cowboys will wait for a top player to fall into their laps at the right price. Dallas is committed to the 4-3 for the long run, and there will be many players that will come in and make an impact. If Dallas can cut ties with Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, I would be all for it. Spencer has problems staying healthy, and his contract year was really his only productive one for the Cowboys. The same thing is true with Hatcher.
If Dallas can sign Melton and Peppers, I would call this offseason a success. Both could come right in and start day one. The best thing about nabbing these guys is that it wouldn’t take long for them to learn the scheme. They played the exact scheme in Chicago, and both were pretty successful in it too. Even if he doesn’t get sacks, Peppers can still make an impact by getting pressure. Ware and Peppers are both very similar. They both are on the downside of their careers. But, Peppers has been relatively more healthier. He is a definitely a guy that the Cowboys should monitor for the next week.