The question was posed last week about which player would be a better free-agent signing for the Cowboys this offseason:
Jason Hatcher or Henry Melton?
If you're a random team like the Browns or Lions, sure, you'd probably just lean toward the younger guy. But since this question is specifically for the Cowboys, I think it's a legitimate either-or scenario. And my counterpart this week, David Helman, surely thinks so.
I think it's a close call. Hatcher knows this team and defense, and is considered a leader. But assuming you could get by with paying the same contract to both players, I'm still going for Melton on this one.
What makes it closer is Melton's last 12 months, which included a torn ACL injury and an arrest for assault and public intoxication last December in nearby Grapevine.
But ACL injuries don't and shouldn't scare teams away from signing players anymore. Melton is expected to be ready to participate in training camp for whatever team that might be.
For now, the favorite is still Chicago. Even Bears GM Phil Emery said Thursday from the combine that he wants to get Melton re-signed.
But if they don't franchise him again, it's likely Melton could test the market the way Hatcher will. And maybe he wants to reunite with Rod Marinelli, the coach who got the best out of him when the two were with Chicago.
Then again, Hatcher could say the same thing considering his best season was under Marinelli. And yet, it appears he'll be out the door as well. [embedded_ad]
But if the Cowboys had to make a call on the two, I'm going with Melton – mainly because of his age.
I don't know that he's a better player than Hatcher. What we saw last year was Hatcher really coming into his own, and the Cowboys missed him in the New Orleans game. The Saints ran the ball right through the Dallas defensive line.
Hatcher has found a niche in this 4-3 scheme, but I think Melton has, too. If both players shined this next seasons, the questions will still be asked about Hatcher's future.
He'll be 32 in July, and at this point, you wonder how many good years he has left. Melton turns 28 in October, meaning he could legitimately play out the length of a contract.
In this argument, we stipulated the money had to be pretty equal, but I'm not sure if it would be. Melton is younger so he could have a longer deal, which lowers the cap value. Hatcher might not get the same kind of deal because of his age.
Either way, I'm going with the younger player who has shined for two years, over Hatcher who not only has played one great season, but he seems ready to move on to a new scene. And there's nothing wrong with that attitude. We've seen good football players – both coming and going – who simply needed a change of scenery.
Hey, Melton could be the same way.
Both are good football players, but the opportunity to get more value and longevity is with Melton.