If Cowboys spend big money, it should be on Henry Melton

The ESPNDallas.com Hot Button debate this week is about whether the Cowboys should keep Anthony Spencer.

As far as I’m concerned, if the Cowboys are going to invest big money in a defensive player this offseason, they’d be better off signing another one of agent Jordan Woy’s clients who is entering free agency after his first Pro Bowl appearance.

They know defensive tackle Henry Melton is a great fit for the Tampa 2 scheme, having seen him tear it up for Rod Marinelli’s Chicago defense the last two seasons. (Just pop in the tape from the Bears’ visit to JerryWorld this season.) They think that Spencer will be able to make the transition from 3-4 outside linebacker to an undersized 4-3 strongside end.

They’re both Pro Bowlers primed for big paydays, meaning the cap-strapped Cowboys would have to get creative to create room for either Spencer or Melton to be on the roster next season.

The 26-year-old Melton, a Grapevine native who started his career at Texas as a running back, just makes more sense than the 29-year-old Spencer -- especially considering the importance of a disruptive 3-technique tackle in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 scheme.

Of course, the Bears would rather not let the Cowboys or anyone else have a chance to sign the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Melton, who has 13 sacks over the last two seasons. He expressed optimism this week that he’ll have a deal done with the Bears before free agency begins March 12.

"We were talking during the season," Melton told The Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I expressed my interest in coming back and staying here. We didn't get anything done. All the coaching changes and all that have delayed it. Hopefully we can get back on schedule of getting something done.

"We were getting somewhere, but we couldn't really come to a deal. Hopefully we can get back on track, because I do want to stay in Chicago.”

If the Bears allow Melton to test the market, it’s easy to envision him coming back home to reunite with Marinelli. The Cowboys’ new defensive line coach helped Melton develop from a fourth-round project into a Pro Bowler during their three years together in Chicago.

"It was sad to see my man Rod go,” Melton told ESPN Chicago 1000, “but it's just how the game is."

The Cowboys would be sad to see Spencer go after a career year, but it’d be a better business move if they could sign Melton.