5 Big Splashes the Dallas Cowboys Could Realistically Make in Free Agency
The Dallas Cowboys don't have a lot of financial wiggle room but could still land one big-name free agent this offseason. While it's true that Big D is more than $20 million over next year's salary cap according to Over the Cap, the team has options to move money around.
Cutting and restructuring some veteran contracts is in the Cowboys' offseason future, and doing so could open the door for one high-profile free-agent signing. Dallas fans should keep in mind that there is little to zero chance that their team can afford more than one noteworthy veteran.
Let's take a look at which free agents the Cowboys could realistically sign after getting their finances in order.
OT Branden Albert
The Cowboys have one of the league's best offensive tackles in Tyron Smith but could use another to bring the offensive line from serviceable to decent.
Albert is a former first-round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs and has become one of the team's staples on the line. The team franchised him last offseason but might not be able to lure him back, depending on the offers from other suitors.
Due to Smith's flexibility to play either right or left tackle, Albert could play left, and Smith could move to right.
Dallas' current starter Doug Free is scheduled to make $3.5 million next season after restructuring with the 'Boys last offseason.
Free might not cost much against the cap next year, but if Dallas can land Albert, there's no question he is the better option at tackle. Free has been hit or miss as far as production during the last three seasons. Meanwhile, Albert was named to the Pro Bowl last year and has been KC's starter at left tackle for three straight years.
Going after Albert shouldn't be the Cowboys' first option for a big-name signing, but he would be a fine player to bring to Valley Ranch. If other names on this list don't pan out, there are worse consolation prizes than Albert out there.
DT Henry Melton
Henry Melton missed much of the 2013 season due to a left knee injury after the Bears franchised him.
With Jason Hatcher's return to Dallas in question, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas, Melton might be a cheaper and younger answer at defensive tackle.
Given the fact that he hasn't played a full season since his rookie year in 2010, interested teams have leverage when hashing out a contract with him. He is also just 27 years old, while Hatcher is 31.
Melton cannot ask for a huge payday due to his past injury issues despite being a Pro Bowler as recently as 2012. Even with missing games in each of the last three seasons, he has tallied 15.5 sacks in his career.
Dallas has the ability to sign him at a cost-efficient contract due to his injury-ridden past. He would be a huge grab for the Cowboys and won't be that far out of their price range.
DE Anthony Spencer
Anthony Spencer was franchise tagged last offseason and played just one game for Dallas. No. 93 cost the Cowboys big money last year while recovering from injury, but that might help keep him on the team.
He is set to hit the free-agent market a season removed from his career-high 11-sack season in 2012. Because he missed so much time in 2013 though, his free-agent price tag has gone down.
Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones told ESPN.com's Calvin Watkins that the team is open to bringing Spencer back under a new contract. It might be hard to do as he will still want a big payday, but he might find that few teams will offer that to him this offseason.
Dallas might be able to talk him into coming back, but the veteran has to feel a bit sour about being tagged for two straight years.
The Cowboys would have to turn on their charm to re-sign Spencer. That being said, his price might be within the team's range, and he has proved to be productive in years past.
SS Yeremiah Bell
Yeremiah Bell wouldn't be the most eye-popping free-agent pickup for Dallas, but he's one of the best options at strong safety in this year's class.
He posted two interceptions for the Arizona Cardinals last season, which was his highest total since 2009 with the Miami Dolphins. He has long been one of the more underrated but solid safeties in the NFL.
Considering that he will be 36 years old before next season starts, he would be just a rental for Dallas. The team could draft a rookie at safety and stash him behind Bell for a year or two.
Dallas needs to address the secondary to some degree this offseason. Bringing in Bell and a rookie is smart from a financial and team-building standpoint. The Cowboys could slowly bring their rookie into the starting position, and Bell has a good year or two left in him.
DE Jared Allen
Back in October of last year, CBSsports.com writer Jason La Canfora speculated how good a fit defensive end Jared Allen could be in Dallas. Canfora is far from wrong on that statement, and it's no secret the Cowboys could use a better pass rush after 2013.
Allen is set to hit the free-agent market, and given the state of the Minnesota Vikings franchise right now, it makes little sense for them to attempt bring him back.
Minnesota needs to focus on its quarterback going forward and adjust personnel to fit the new coaching regime. Allen should be far down the Vikes' to-do list. According to ESPN.com's Ben Goessling, the team is already trying to plan for life without Allen unless he takes a highly reduced deal.
If the Cowboys want Allen, they would need to move or cut more than a few million dollars off the current payroll. That being said, the five-time Pro Bowler would be worth it.
He has posted 23.5 combine sacks in the past two seasons after his career-high 22-sack season in 2011. Dallas desperately needs a 4-3 beast like Allen, especially with Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher both scheduled to hit free agency.
Alex Hall is a Dallas Cowboys Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @AlexKHall.
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