Last week, in a point/counterpoint article we did on this website, I took the side of signing Chicago free agent Henry Melton over Jason Hatcher, assuming the money situation was rather equal. I went with Melton because of his age, but Hatcher at least is coming off the best season of his career.
And when that happens, they usually get paid. Whether or not Hatcher actually breaks the bank remains to seen. Last year, defensive linemen didn't have the greatest open market, with many of them taking smaller, shorter-term deals.
But with the salary cap expected to raise up over the $130 million range, it could change everything.
More dollars across the board means more money for everyone.
Yes, the Cowboys have some more breathing room on their own cap, but other teams who are in better shape cap-wise, have a shot to do some free spending.
Still, maybe we shouldn't close the door just yet on Hatcher returning to the Cowboys. The word around these halls at Valley Ranch is the Cowboys are crunching some numbers just to see what it might cost to bring him back. If anyone can negotiate with Hatcher and his agent right now, it would be the Cowboys.
Now Hatcher is the one who said he will test the market come March 11, and he definitely owes it to himself to do that. He led all NFL defensive tackles in sacks last year with 11, the most by any Cowboys' DT in one season since Randy White back in 1982.
That's worth something and Hatcher has deserved the right to find out how much.
But, the Cowboys aren't turning their back on their eight-year veteran who walked through those doors back in 2006 as a third-round pick. Looking at last year, it seems obvious Hatcher is better suited for a 4-3 defense. He wasn't the starter in a 3-4, something he still seems bitter about.
When I wrote the piece on Melton, of course I pointed out that his best seasons have been under Rod Marinelli. But we can't forget that the same goes for Hatcher. [embedded_ad]
Marinelli found a way to get the best out of Hatcher, Nick Hayden, George Selvie and just about every one of those defensive linemen they signed last year – and I think there were close to 20.
Here in the last week, both Jerry and Stephen Jones have done their share of interviews, mostly involving the 25th anniversary of Jerry purchasing the Cowboys in 1989. But Tony Romo's health, the possibility of Johnny Manziel falling, and DeMarcus Ware's future have all been discussed.
But not much has been said about Hatcher.
And who knows, if the Cowboys are to bring back Hatcher, it's going to have to be at the right price, and a price that will probably be determined after a week or two in free agency.
The door will likely be open for Hatcher to look elsewhere. But the Cowboys won't be shutting it behind him.