Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive end Jeremy Mincey (57) in the first quarter during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys Now Operating in an Era of Fiscal Responsibility.

Sep 9, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Henry Melton (69) celebrates a sack during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field. The Bears won 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

When the contract for new Dallas Cowboy, Henry Melton, was made public last week, it was hard to ignore how team-friendly the deal was. The former Pro-Bowler was signed to a guaranteed 1-year deal, with a team option for 3 additional years. The first year would largely be performance-based, while the team-optioned last three years are more of a traditional structure of partially guaranteed money.

Melton’s contract could be as low-risk as a 1 year $2.25M contract or as large as a 4 year $29M contract. What it becomes will depend on Henry Melton’s performance in 2014. It’s really the perfect deal for a team hesitant to commit big money to an injured player and for a player confident in his ability to bounce back and prove it to everyone else.

This contract is exactly the type of deal the Cowboys should have been making for years. Granted, Melton comes under special circumstances – He recently has had some legal issues arise and he is coming off of major knee surgery. Throw in the fact that he loves defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and you have the perfect situation for the perfect deal.

Throw the Brandon Weeden contract into the discussion too. He may be terrible and statistically one of the worst starting QBs from the last couple seasons but he doesn’t cost anything. The former 1st rounder is certainly a classifiable “bust” (what are you laughing at Morris Claiborne) but when it became known he accepted a contract for the league minimum, the signing was actually pretty good.

The Cowboys found a way to cover themselves in case current backup, Kyle Orton, retires like he had been hinting at. According to Todd Archer it only costs $75k against the cap. That’s pretty savvy Salary Cap Management right there.

The signings of Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain are equally budget friendly deals. These gentlemen figure to be rotational players with a chance at starting spots on the DL. How much will this cost the Cowboys in 2014? Just $1.25M for Mincey who signed a 2 year $4.5M deal and $850k for McClain who signed a 3 year/$3.05M deal. More responsible spending from the Cowboys.

What about moves the Cowboy’s didn’t make…

Jared Allen desperately wanted the Cowboys to offer him a hefty contract when he visited Dallas last week.

The Cowboys restrained themselves. When have you heard of that before? Jared Allen is a big-time player that deserves some real money. The Cowboys would be happy to add him to the team but only at the right cost.

They did the right thing for the long-term economic health of the franchise.  They don’t appear to be budging either. Allen has given them plenty of time and now needs to make a decision himself.

The Cowboys could have kept DeMarcus Ware or even resigned Jason Hatcher or Anthony Spencer. They only had to rework contracts for Jason Witten and Brandon Carr to get it done. Doing so would have pushed money back on each of their deals making it more difficult down the road. The Cowboys resisted that urge.

Things are changing in Dallas. The front office seems suddenly aware that there are consequences to their actions. But budget consciousness alone will not improve this franchise. The Cowboys need talent or these deals are a waste of money. McClain and Mincey must contribute positively. We don’t want to see a repeat of the Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings budget friendly signings from a few years ago. They must make the team better to be worth it.

Weeden probably will never offer anything back but since the money committed to him is just the veterans minimum, who cares? Melton could just be an average player and completely justify his 2014 salary. Chances are high, he’s going to pay off.

The NFL is about two things: 1. Talent acquisition and 2. Managing budgets. The Cowboys seem to have finally figured that second one out.

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Henry Melton Jared Allen

  • Scott.

    I hope your right and the Jobes’ have changed thier approach to mismanaging the cap. I like what they’ve done this year. It’s only one year though so let’s see if they can sustain this over a few more years.

    • Reid Hanson

      Well said and I think that’s a good attitude to take with this. The moves are fiscally smart. That’s about all we know at this point. If this responsibility continues and how the players play has yet to be seen.

  • GrrsnRonW@gmail.com

    I think the Team has done the right thing also by not just throwing money at aging players. With all the picks Dallas has this year they should get a couple of Starters out of the draft. They traded down last year and people though they were crazy picking Fredrick and he turned out to be a steal for the team. So I think they are playing it close to the vest which is good to see.

  • SmartThinking

    Not so fast, bub! Three or four guys getting “prove it or don’t” contracts and “talk” about three or four more guys getting re-structured contracts doesn’t a “Jerry’s a changed man” make.

    Free Agency isn’t even over. And the Draft is five weeks away. And that’s just for starters! There’s still plenty of time left for big Jones to make a lot more ridiculous, boneheaded moves no one but he and his ego can ever understand.

    All these miraculous new personnel approaches haven’t proved one thing yet. And they surely haven’t proved big Jones even has a clue how to manage the cap problems he’s hamstrung this team with for years now. Not with these four or five guys he’s hired!

    All we know for sure is a couple of DT’s, one with untested injuries and a police record, a DE and one nearly worthless ex-Cleveland reject got offered contracts favorable to The Cowboys…and, surprise!, surprise! they took them. Melton’s injuries make him unproven going forward. Weeden’s a, well, I don’t know what kind of mess Weeden is. And the other two tomato cans are rotational players at the very best.
    Far from a positive fiscal trend.

    Do I want to see this team get itself out of the money pit big Jones has splurged it into for the last twenty years? Heck yes. But I’m not gonna trumpet to the gods that there’s a new positive way of dealing with players and their salaries. At least not yet. Sure. It’s good to note these changes. Calmly. But, I’m gonna wait a year before (a) I judge big Jones as having turned over this team to his kid, (b) started spending money wisely and getting it’s worth in return, or, (c) agreeing that big Jones has turned over a new leaf and is finely, after two decades, acting like a smart owner/GM.

    • Reid Hanson

      I’m not trying to say Jerry is a changed man but I do want to point out the positives. I’ve been tough on the front office in the past and I will continue to be in the future, but I need to give credit where credit is due. Besides -This team is probably not going to challenge for the playoffs in 2014 so I need to point out the good things on the rare occations they appear!

      • SmartThinking

        There’s no “era” here. At least not yet. All we’ve got so far are a couple of decent contracts offered to decent players. This is nothing special on any other team. And certainly no era. Dial back the sensational headlines and let’s wait and see what nonsense big Jones serves up next.