The sense of joy for Dallas Cowboys fans far and wide was palpable after the team signed Henry Melton. With one signature, the situation on the defensive line went from dismal to manageable and perhaps even better than that. It was a remarkably cap-friendly deal that puts the Cowboys completely in the driver's seat. There does not look to be a way the team can really lose unless Melton's knee doesn't cooperate, but even then they can get out from under the deal after 2014, and Melton has a chance to get a nice payday if he is fully recovered from the ACL injury.
Adding Melton is going to be a tremendous help for the Cowboys if his recovery goes as expected. He gives the team a dynamic player to build a pass rush around. He allows the team to focus more on the best players in the draft rather than having to try to reach for defensive linemen early. But Henry Melton's signing was a look at the future of the Dallas Cowboys for years to come. He was on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, and a couple of quotes that got posted caught my eye.
Henry Melton said Rod Marinelli, Jason Garrett and Stephen Jones handled his signing.— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) March 19, 2014
It's become apparent that a growing amount of authority is being exercised by Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett. There have been a lot of things that seemed to contradict it at times. Who was behind the hiring and firing of assistant coaches was never very clear. The still evolving role of the various people involved in calling the offensive plans is even more enigmatic, although at first blush it would look like something that was being dictated to the head coach by the owner. And Jerry Jones was never shy about declaring that the buck clearly stopped with him.
But now, we have a free agent signing that was seen widely as the make or break move by the Cowboys - and Melton clearly and plainly states that Jerry Jones was nowhere to be seen.
For years, fans and critics of the Cowboys alike have been asking, begging, and screaming for Jerry Jones to give up his general manager duties. It may have happened, and almost no one realized it had actually taken place.
This could be a one-off situation. Jerry may have just had other plans he could not change. However, it would seem a curious thing for an NFL general manager to make plans that would take him away from his organization during the first two weeks of free agency. Just saying.
I think this is more than that. I think Stephen and Jason Garrett are going to be in charge of these things from now on. I think they have been more in charge than we realized for some time. The problem, of course, is that Jerry keeps talking like he is still the man making all the decisions as he was back when Dave Campo was head coach. His story hasn't changed, but the reality has. It certainly looks like he has stepped back to be more of a supervisor than a hands on manager. He sets the tone, offers some general guidance, then Stephen and Jason figure out what they are going to do to try and get there. Since Jerry's overall guidance is "Win Super Bowls", that gives his two key subordinates a lot of latitude.
What they have done with that latitude is tear down a large part of the team and rebuilt it with younger talent while coming up with a much more sustainable way of handling the salary cap restrictions. This was all done while also trying to remain competitive. They have not succeeded. Yet. But the direction the team is headed and the approach being taken are very encouraging, and nothing is more encouraging that the decisions and actions taken during free agency this season. It was done according to a plan and concept clearly stated by Stephen Jones, and so far the Cowboys have not made any discernible mistakes. If you listen to Stephen, you can see exactly what the team is doing and what it will do. If you listen to Jerry Jones, you will just get lost in the fog of verbosity. But many people still insist that Jerry is calling the shots and Stephen and Jason are just the puppets dancing on his strings.
I don't see how this can be explained away. The most important negotiation for Dallas in free agency, and the subject of the negotiation says he never spoke to or saw Jerry Jones. Something seems to have seriously changed. This is not Jerry Jones taking advice. This is him letting go of the reins.
And it is a very, very good thing.