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Henry Melton And The Dallas Cowboys Are Betting The Farm This Year

Former Pro Bowl defensive tackle and DFW area native Henry Melton is attempting to return from a serious knee injury, and he knows that he is going to have to prove to the Cowboys and their fans that he still has what it takes to get the job done. Will he and the team hit the jackpot?

Could this have been the start of something good for Henry Melton and the Dallas Cowboys?
Could this have been the start of something good for Henry Melton and the Dallas Cowboys?
Justin K. Aller

When the Dallas Cowboys took the gamble to invest in Henry Melton during the off-season there was considerable risk involved. Sure there was a tremendous amount of potential that he could step right into the 3-tech role that was vacated by Jason Hatcher, but the Grapevine native and University of Texas (or Texsa, as some in Austin seem to prefer) alum was attempting to return from an ACL surgery that cost him the bulk of the 2013 season. The Dallas front office did their due diligence and determined that the reward would be worth the risk.  Worth it or not, nothing is assured.

We would all like to sit back and assume that this move will work out for all parties involved, and so far it does look like that might be the case. The team and their new workhorse DT are being careful and the results have been positive so far. Melton himself seems to be highly motivated, not only to earn his way back to where he was prior to injury, but also to deliver his best for the home town folks. To that end, Melton is placing a large bet on himself. He has a lot of money riding on his ability to return to his previous level.

The bottom line: the defensive tackle can make anywhere from $1.25 million to $5 million this season in a deal that rewards individual performance and protects the club if Melton is not all the way back from a torn ACL.

So far the team has been protecting its investment in the former Chicago Bears defensive lineman. It is not only Melton who has placed a large bet on himself, so to have Jerry and Stephen Jones. During the free agency period, and even during the course of the 2013 season, the club had the opportunity to reach out to Jason Hatcher and secure his services for the remainder of his career but they chose to pursue the Melton option instead. Beyond him, the Cowboys really have no proven NFL talent on the defensive line and if Henry Melton cannot return to form, things could get ugly real fast for Rod Marinelli's defense. Melton intends to insure that the man he credits for turning him into a Pro Bowler does not face that situation this season.

"I want to be the veteran who steps up and takes over and dominates. That's what I was in Chicago. We had a big mix of veterans who stepped up and balled out. Hopefully, I can be one of those guys here." - Henry Melton

The man whose job could be riding on the success or failure of Melton and his defensive cohorts, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, is convinced that he and the team are gambling on the right individual. So is the team's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones. Both men are high in their praise for Melton. His work ethic, leadership, and determination to succeed played a key role in why the Cowboys chose to invest in the man they chose.

"It's critical that you have anchor-type players, marquee-type players, who can take the burden off the other guys. The more you can spread the burden out, the better it is for everybody. When you have players who get the attention of the opposing unit that helps the guy playing next to him. Henry Melton is a guy who really was an explosive player for Chicago. Once he established himself as a starter, he was a Pro Bowl player until his injury. He's still a young player. He's very athletic. We feel like he worked very hard to come back from his injury.  - Jason Garrett

"When we were looking at the deal that was part of why we were leaning his way even more. He is dead set on betting on himself. He knows even before the injury he wasn’t playing his best football. I think he knows Rod (Marinelli) is a good influence on him and he responds well to Rod and he thinks this is a great place to get back on track.’’ - Stephen Jones

The bets are all in, the cards have been dealt, and now we wait to see how this hand is going to play out. Melton knows what he has to do for Dallas to have an ace in the hole.

For his part, Henry Melton knows exactly what it is going to take for him to be the Cowboys ace in the hole.

"The NFL is about what have you done lately. I didn't play a lot last year. I've got to prove I've still got it." - Henry Melton

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