Cowboys lose a chance at Julius Peppers

The Cowboys are not running out of time when it comes to filling the needs of the defensive line in free agency, but they could be losing quality players in the pool.

With Julius Peppers signing a three-year deal with the Green Bay Packers on Saturday morning, it meant that's one less name to evaluate on the free-agent list.

So now the Cowboys hope that Dallas native Henry Melton doesn't sign with anybody else before his scheduled visit to Valley Ranch this weekend. He might not even get here until Monday.

Jared Allen, Anthony Spencer and Robert Ayers are other names the Cowboys have an interest in.

Yet because of the Cowboys' limited monies in the salary cap, they are going to be careful with any signing. They want a quality player but at their own price.

None of the free agents the Cowboys sign are going to get that five-year, $50.1 million deal that Brandon Carr got two years ago when he signed on from Kansas City.

Expect a low base salary for a free agent with a nice $6 million to $8 million signing bonus for a two- or three-year deal.

Spencer (microfracture) and Melton (ACL) are coming off injuries, so teams, while interested, could have some leverage from a financial basis due to the health of the players.

The Cowboys have time to make a move, but finding the player they want in free agency is growing tougher.