IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are expected to play host to a pair of high-profile free agents this week at Valley Ranch, and are hoping to see them both as early as Monday.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton, who is considered one of the last big-name defensive tackles available, is scheduled to visit the Cowboys, who are also planning to meet with quarterback Brandon Weeden, who was recently cut by the Browns.
Melton was in Seattle last week and has other visits lined up after Dallas, which is his hometown. A native of nearby Grapevine, Melton played running back and then defensive tackle at Texas. Melton became a standout tackle in Chicago, where he played under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator and defensive line coach.
Although he's coming off an ACL injury that limited his 2013 campaign to just three games, Melton is expected to be fully rehabbed and ready for return by the start of training camp. At 27, Melton would seemingly be a good fit to replace recently-departed Jason Hatcher, who signed with the Redskins last Thursday. Melton plays the three-technique in the 4-3 scheme and earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2012 when he had six sacks for the Bears.
Earlier this week, the Cowboys made headlines for cutting defensive end DeMarcus Ware, but did add a pair of solid defensive linemen in veteran Jeremy Mincey and tackle Terrell McClain. Mincey can play outside at defensive end but slide inside to the three-technique. McClain is more of a one-technique who played nose tackle last year in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme in Houston.
The Cowboys were reportedly interested in acquiring veteran Julius Peppers, who also played under Marinelli in Chicago. But the 12-year veteran signed a three-year deal with Green Bay over the weekend.
As for Weeden, the former first-round draft pick (22nd overall) in 2012, started 20 games in Cleveland, but just five last year before being benched.
He turns 31 in October after playing five seasons of professional baseball before going to Oklahoma State and spending four years in Stillwater. Weeden was on the team during Dez Bryant's final two seasons at OSU, but didn't become the starter until 2010.
Last year with the Browns, Weeden was sidelined by a thumb injury and eventually lost his starting job to Brian Hoyer. When Hoyer was lost for the season with an ACL injury, Weeden returned to the starting role but was eventually benched in favor of Jason Campbell.
The Cowboys are still expecting Kyle Orton to return as the backup to Tony Romo. Weeden might be an insurance plan if Orton decides to retire -- something the Cowboys viewed as a possibility last month.
Earlier this offseason, the Cowboys tried to sign veteran backup Mike Kafka, who decided to sign with Tampa Bay.
More than anything, the Cowboys need available arms as Romo will be limited in the OTAs and mini-camps as he recovers from back surgery.