The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to terms with Henry Melton, the third defensive lineman to join them in free agency since the release of franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware.
A person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press that the team was working on final details of the contract Tuesday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an agreement had not been announced.
Melton missed most of last season with Chicago after tearing a ligament in his left knee against Pittsburgh on Sept. 22. He will be reunited with former Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who now has the same title in Dallas.
The fifth-year player was a high school running back in the Dallas area before becoming a defensive tackle with the Texas Longhorns.
The 27-year-old Melton has 15½ sacks and 63 tackles in 48 career games, including 32 starts. The Bears drafted him in the fifth round in 2009, and he missed his rookie season with an ankle injury.
Melton was arrested in December in Grapevine, where he went to high school, on charges of assault and public intoxication after police say he refused to leave a bar and fought with employees.
Police say Melton was accused of punching the bar manager in the face and biting his arm. Melton's agent, Jordan Woy, said at the time that his client didn't start the altercation.
The Cowboys released Ware, their star defensive end, just as free agency opened. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher signed with Washington after leading the Cowboys with 11 sacks last season.
A day after Ware's release, the Cowboys signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain. Mincey is the team's current career leader with 20 sacks, now followed by Melton.
Next on this list with 10 is George Selvie, who wasn't even on the Dallas roster when training camp started last season and ended up second to Hatcher with seven sacks on an injury plagued unit.
Marinelli came to Dallas a year ago as defensive line coach with then-defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin after Lovie Smith was fired in Chicago. He was promoted when Kiffin was reassigned after the Cowboys gave up the most yards in franchise history and finished last in the NFL in total defense.
CHIEFS SAY SANDERS FIASCO IS OVER
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said Tuesday the controversial signing of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders by AFC West-rival Denver has been "put to bed" and that he's focused on what he can do during the rest of free agency and the draft.
Sanders had visited the Chiefs last week and reports began to surface he had agreed to a contract. His agent, Steve Weinberg, said that was never the case, and that reports citing unnamed sources that claimed he was "shopping" the Chiefs' offer to other teams were inaccurate.
Sanders ultimately signed an $18 million, three-year deal with Denver, and the Chiefs' lengthy and frustrating pursuit of a wide receiver to help out quarterback Alex Smith rolls on.
"During the free agency stuff, anything can happen," Dorsey said in his first availability since the start of the open market. "I was interested in the player, and the end of the day the player and agent decided to go to Denver. … That deal was put to bed."
Well, it was almost put to bed.
Weinberg's publicist issued a press release in which the agent offered his interpretation of the negotiations. The release also alleges someone from the Chiefs sent the agent "a series of angry and threatening text messages" under the assumption that he was shopping their deal.
The collective bargaining agreement states parties are supposed to negotiate in "good faith."
"If we reached or agreed to terms with the Chiefs, we would have signed with Kansas City and never turned back," Weinberg said. "There were absolutely no handshakes, verbal agreements or signed documents when Sanders left the Chiefs facility. Emmanuel was on his way to the airport when teams called us. We didn't ‘shop any deals' or ‘reach out' to a single team. My fiduciary responsibility is to the players I represent and not to the NFL teams or their ‘good ole boys' tactics."
Dorsey refused Tuesday to say whether he thought the Chiefs had an agreement with Sanders, and it appears the franchise won't take the rare step of filing a grievance.
"When we do negotiations, I don't really talk about negotiations outside the building," Dorsey said. "That's really it. We move on. That's what we've done. I've moved on."
Just where the Chiefs have moved on to is the question.
They have been quiet in free agency in large part because they have very little room under the salary cap. They've signed defensive tackle Vance Walker and depth players such as Frank Zombo and Jeff Linkenbach, but have yet to address their most glaring holes: wide receiver and safety.
They now have less than $5 million under the salary cap, and much of that will go toward signing draft picks. And if they're hopeful of filling their holes through the draft, they also are faced with having just one selection in the first 86 picks.
"I think we're in a good position right now. We have some flexibility to do some things if we want to, some flexibility to acquire players. We're in a good place," Dorsey said. "I've said all along we're going to be selective in free agency and we're going to build through the draft. That's what we're doing."
BEARS BRING BACK IDONIJE
The Chicago Bears agreed Tuesday to a one-year contract with defensive lineman Israel Idonije and are bringing him back for a second stint.
They also released receiver Earl Bennett and added depth at safety, agreeing to one-year deals with Craig Steltz and Danny McCray.
Idonije spent last season with Detroit after playing his first nine for Chicago. He had just 11 tackles and a half-sack with the Lions, but played some of the best ball of his career toward the end of his time with the Bears.
He had 20½ sacks over his last three seasons with Chicago. At 33, he doesn't give the Bears the youth they're seeking. But with his ability to play end or tackle, he does provide the versatility they're looking for as they revamp a struggling defense.
A third-round draft pick out of Vanderbilt in 2008, Bennett had 185 catches for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was a favorite target of Jay Cutler, his college teammate, but he also has a history of concussions. With Bennett gone, Marquess Wilson becomes the favorite for the third receiver spot behind stars Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Steltz, a fourth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2008, made one start last season and had one pass break-up along with 14 tackles and 14 special teams tackles. McCray was mainly a special teams contributor during his four seasons with Dallas. He had eight defensive and eight special teams tackles last season.
The Bears have been busy of late, releasing defensive end Julius Peppers and bringing back cornerback Charles Tillman on a one-year deal. They have two new ends in Willie Young and Lamarr Houston, and they've also added Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to the mix at safety.
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