IRVING, Texas –Usually in free agency, both sides coming together on a deal is the hardest part.
But in the case of linebacker Justin Durant, the biggest hurdle wasn't the terms of the deal, but just fitting it under the Cowboys' salary cap.
But thanks to renegotiating the contract of backup quarterback Kyle Orton on Wednesday, the Cowboys were able to officially sign Durant to a two-year contract. Durant becomes the first new player to sign with the Cowboys here in the 2013 free-agent signing period.
A six-year veteran, Durant had 103 tackles with a half-sack last year as an outside linebacker in the Lions' 4-3 scheme. Before his two seasons in Detroit, he played four years with the Jaguars and has a total of 67 career starts.
Durant will compete for a starting job at strong-side linebacker, likely with Kyle Wilber, Alex Albright and Ernie Sims, who re-signed just last week.
The Cowboys had only $177,000 on this year's cap when the free-agent signing period began two weeks ago. After inking Sims to a one-year deal, it gave the club a little more than $100,000 on the cap, which only counts the top 51 contracts on the roster.
While the terms of Durant's deal haven't been announced, the Cowboys do have barely enough to sign a veteran at the minimum, so the fact Durant must wait for more room suggests the terms of the deal are at least higher than a minimum deal.
And the Cowboys likely aren't done here in free agency. They could sign veteran safety Will Allen as early as Wednesday afternoon. To do that, they will likely have to release a player or two, but one that is counting on the Top 51 salaries.
Allen is a nine-year veteran who spent the last three years with the Steelers. He has 33 career starts. Like Durant, Allen is one of three [embedded_ad] players who visited the Cowboys on Monday, along with veteran safety Michael Huff.
There is also reported interest in former Jets guard Brandon Moore, a 10-year veteran who has started all 16 games for New York the past seven years. Moore played for Bill Callahan, the Cowboys' current offensive coordinator and offensive line coach who coached the Jets' line four years before coming to Dallas last season.
Photos of Justin Durant and Will Allen through the years >>