Ranking the 2014 Impact of Dallas Cowboys' Free-Agent Signings so Far
The Dallas Cowboys haven't signed many free agents so far this offseason, but as the old saying goes, it's about quality, not quantity. With just four signings so far in free agency, the Cowboys have been stretching their money well.
Despite salary cap woes going into free agency, Dallas made tough decisions and was able to free enough money to grab depth at key positions and bring in a new starter. Not all four will have huge impacts on the upcoming season, though. Some are simply insurance policies.
Each signing was ranked based on their potential to have a noticeable, positive impact on the Cowboys' season. These rankings were determined based on the players' past production and who they will likely be fighting for playing time.
Let's take a look at which new Cowboys are going to turn the most heads during their first season in Big D.
4. QB Brandon Weeden
While Brandon Weeden was brought to Dallas for a reason, it was not so he could have any big role in head coach Jason Garrett's 2014 plans.
Weeden was brought in as insurance in case Tony Romo goes down and/or Kyle Orton decides to retire before next season.
Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News reported back in February that a source within Valley Ranch said Orton wasn't sure if he wanted to suit up for 2014. Starting QB Romo has had two back surgeries over the past two offseasons.
Weeden will likely be the No. 3 quarterback if Orton does decide to stay with the team. That means he won't exactly be on the field enough to give the Cowboys a spark. Honestly though, a year on the bench and working with Garrett could be just what the former first-round pick needs.
3. DT Terrell McClain
Terrell McClain has provided depth for three different teams over his three NFL seasons at defensive tackle.
Although he told ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins he would like to start for his newest team, McClain will likely be depth for the Cowboys at a crucial defensive position.
With Henry Melton also coming to Valley Ranch, McClain will likely be used to let Melton get some rest at times during games. Though McClain has just one sack in his professional career, he is a veteran who understands the 4-3 system.
"If you have good quickness off the ball and good footwork you can really make a difference in the system," McClain told Watkins.
The former Houston Texan is looking to make his presence felt in Dallas, and if he can do that in a limited role, the Cowboys will be all smiles with this signing.
2. DE Jeremy Mincey
While he has recorded just five sacks since that impressive 2011 season, Mincey gives the Cowboys more manpower at a depleted position. DeMarcus Ware is no longer a member of the team, and Anthony Spencer is a free agent.
Considering Ware and Spencer were Dallas' projected starters at defensive end this time last year, it's safe to say the team needs new faces to emerge. George Selvie did just that last season when he recorded seven sacks out of nowhere for the 'Boys.
With Ware now with the Broncos, Selvie is going to need some help and Mincey could lend a big hand if he gets back to his old form.
"I'll do whatever they tell me. If they feel like me playing one position and I'm best suited for it, I'll follow my leader's lead," said Mincey to ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer.
It's pretty likely that the Cowboys are going to address defensive end somewhere in the first few rounds of this year's NFL draft. That being said, having Mincey and another guy like Kyle Wilber to help back up a young rookie isn't a bad move.
Mincey probably won't bring down eight quarterbacks for Dallas like he did for Jacksonville in 2011. He will, however, have a good amount of chances to make an impact. The Cowboys don't really have many other options at his position, which plays to his advantage.
1. DT Henry Melton
This ranking was a bit of a no-brainer.
With Jason Hatcher now with archrival Washington, the Cowboys turned to Henry Melton to become their next great defensive tackle.
Melton was injured for all but three games last year in Chicago, but in 2012, he put together a Pro Bowl season with six sacks for the Bears. His defensive coordinator that season was current Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
While Hatcher is set to turn 32 in July, Melton is just 27 years old and has likely not reached his ceiling as far as on-field production goes. He will also be reunited with the coordinator that helped him become a Pro Bowler.
Really like @HenMel in Dallas' defense. He's the 3-tech they needed to replace Hatcher—and if healthy he's an upgrade.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 19, 2014
Based on the simple fact that Melton is the only player sure to start for the Cowboys next season, he gets awarded the title of highest potential impact player. If Melton is able to fully recover from last year's injury, there's no reason he can't be just as, if not more, productive than Hatcher was last season.
There's plenty of reason for Cowboys fans to get excited about their newest big man on the defensive line.
All statistics were retrieved from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.
Alex Hall is a Dallas Cowboys featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @AlexKHall.
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