IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are involved in a "delicate dance” as they work to rebuild their defensive line.
DeMarcus Ware is released and visiting Denver. Jason Hatcher is a free agent and visiting Seattle. Henry Melton, the Bears’ free agent, is in the neighborhood of Valley Ranch. And names old (Anthony Spencer) and new (Robert Ayers?) are on the radar.
Sources say Dallas has Hatcher and Melton atop its wish list. They play the same position (3-technique), are represented by the same agent (Jordan Woy), are beloved by the same defensive coordinator (ex-Chicago boss Rod Marinelli is now in Dallas) and each has some level of baggage.
Hatcher, coming off an 11-sack Pro Bowl season, will turn 32 this year.
Melton is just 27 but missed most of last season and is coming off of left ACL surgery.
Word around Valley Ranch is that he is 80-to-90 percent healthy, so maybe concerns there are unfounded. Similarly, there is the view that Hatcher is a "low-mileage” player and well-worth the interest he’s getting from five teams that are interviewing him in cross-country trips.
That process began in Seattle, will include Tennessee, and will also feature the Cowboys’ continuing interest in him.
Melton — who played high-school football in Grapevine and college football at Texas â is expected to make a similar number of trips with many of the same clubs searching for help from an interior playmaker.
The Cowboys need to juggle all that information, weigh factors against each other, try not to insult one candidate while flirting with another and monitor the progress of their talks with other suitors.
A delicate dance.
Ware’s release frees up $7.4 million of cap room that Dallas can use on a standout player like the aforementioned. Or the Cowboys can pursue a greater volume of lower-tiered talent. That might include Ayers (a Broncos defensive end mentioned by the Dallas Morning News) and Spencer, who missed last year with a knee injury after having been Dallas’ best defensive player in 2012.