Enemy Intel: Dallas Cowboys

Enemy Intel: Dallas Cowboys
April 12, 2014, 11:45 am
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Since free agency opened March 11, front offices around the league have been busy retooling rosters and prepping for next season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve been keeping a watching eye on the moves made by teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2014 schedule.

Some teams have gotten better. Others? Not so much. Let’s take a closer look:

Up today … 

Opponent: Cowboys

2013 record: 8-8 (second place NFC East).

Arriving: DT Henry Melton (Bears), QB Brandon Weedon (Browns), NT Terrell McClain (Texans) and DE Jeremy Mincey (Broncos).

Departing: DT Jason Hatcher (Redskins), DE DeMarcus Ware (Broncos), C Phil Costa (Colts), DE Jarius Wynn (Bills), S Danny McCray (Bears), DE Anthony Spencer (unsigned), WR Miles Austin (unsigned), G Brian Waters (unsigned), LB Ernie Sims (unsigned) and DE Edgar Jones (unsigned).

Cap space remaining: $6,417,817, according to NFLPA records.

Best move thus far: Signing Melton, who had a Pro Bowl season in 2012 with the Bears but suffered a torn ACL in Week 3 last season. The 27-year-old Fort Worth native signed a one-year contract that includes a three-year team option. If Melton is on the roster at the start of the league year in 2015, his deal could become worth as much as $29 million over four seasons. Melton will also be reunited with Rod Marinelli, who worked with him in Chicago from 2010-2012.

The bottom line: Last season, the Cowboys’ defense ranked 32nd in yards allowed (283 more than the second-worst Vikings) and 26th in points permitted per game (27.0).

[MORE: LeSean McCoy defends DeSean Jackson]

In most cities, that would probably would have led to a massive personnel overhaul. But that wasn’t possible for the salary cap strapped Cowboys. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware refused a pay cut and ended up in Denver, while defensive tackle Jason Hatcher defected to the division rival Redskins. Although both are on the wrong side of 30, Ware and Hatcher were the Cowboys’ best pass rushers in 2013, racking up a combined 17 sacks, and will be missed.

Jerry Jones did, however, manage to avoid total disaster by signing former Bears standout Henry Melton to an incentive-laden deal. The question, of course, is how soon can Melton return to his Pro Bowl form after suffering a serious knee injury last September.

On offense, it’s pretty much status quo for a Tony Romo-led unit that ranked fifth in points per game (27.4) last season. If Romo, who is recovering from back surgery, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams can produce like they did in 2013, they should be okay.  

But will it be enough to overcome the deficiencies on defense? That, and what they're able to do in the draft, could determine whether the Cowboys end a four-year playoff drought in 2014.