2014 NFL free agency: Cowboys host Jared Allen, Saints sign Zach Strief and more

Jamie Squire

Entering the second week of free agency, there are still many marquee names on the street.

The Dallas Cowboys began the offseason more than $20 million over the projected salary cap. After cutting a bevy of players including DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin, and restructuring a few contracts, Jerry Jones and the boys have some coin to spend.

On Monday, Dallas is getting busy with a pair of visits, including defensive tackle Henry Melton and quarterback Brandon Weeden, per the Dallas Morning News. Defensive end Jared Allen will be coming Tuesday, according to Pro Football Talk.

Melton seems like a natural fit with Dallas after spending the first four years of his career with the Chicago Bears. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Melton would be having a reunion with former Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who is replacing Monte Kiffin as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator.

The idea of signing Allen also makes plenty of sense. Dallas is in desperate need of a pass rusher with the losses of Anthony Spencer and Ware. Allen had 11.5 sacks last year, continuing his streak of seven consecutive seasons with double-digit sack totals. Allen is also very durable, having only missed three games in a 10-year career.

Weeden would be a backup to Tony Romo, replacing Kyle Orton. Weeden was drafted in 2012 by the Cleveland Browns but never panned out, ultimately getting released this offseason by new general manager Ray Farmer. Weeden, 30, threw nine touchdowns and as many interceptions last year while completing 52.8 percent of his passes. Update: The Cowboys signed Weeden to a two-year deal.

Dolphins forking up dough for Finnegan

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan agreed to a two-year contract on Saturday, but the dollar sign specifics weren't released until Monday… and there are a lot of dollar signs. Finnegan's $11 million contract will pay a base salary of $3.5 million in 2014 and $5.45 million in 2015, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

The 30-year-old was recently cut lose from a five-year, $50 million contract he signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2012. Once a Pro Bowler with the Tennessee Titans, Finnegan never came close to living up to that money in St. Louis, which makes it surprising that Miami would give him that kind of money.

The Dolphins recently fired general manager Jeff Ireland, in part for the disappointing play of the big-money free agents he signed last year.

Jets show interest in Ford

The New York Jets grabbed their primary target in Eric Decker last week, but with so many holes in their receiving corps, don't expect them to slow down their pursuit of wideouts any time soon. Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that the team is showing interest in former Raider Jacoby Ford.

There is a connection there: Ford played under current Jets receiver coach Sanjay Lal in Oakland.

If the Jets do want Ford, it doesn't appear that they'll have much competition for him. The 26-year-old was a healthy scratch in the Raiders' last two games and finished the season with 13 receptions for 99 yards.

Strief returns to Saints

The New Orleans Saints have re-signed right tackle Zach Strief, who was the captain of the offensive line last season. The contract is for five years and $20.5 million with $8.4 million guaranteed, per Ian Rapoport.

Strief is one of the better right tackles in football, and is very familiar with the Saints offense after spending the first eight years of his career in the Big Easy. According to Pro Football Focus, Strief ranks second among free agent tackles available.

Here is what Dave Cariello of Canal Street Chronicles had to say about Strief's importance:

Strief is one of the longest tenured Saints player on the roster and will remain so for another five years. This is a good move on the part of the Saints. There really weren't any better options at tackle on the free agent market at this point and Strief deserves to end his career where it started.


New York continues to re-work its secondary and added a big piece on Monday, agreeing to a five-year deal with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The deal is reportedly worth $39 million. While the Giants have done some solid work in free agency, including signing Walter Thurmornd, Rodgers-Cromartie is the big move. He played like one of the best corners in the league last year and would give New York a true No. 1 corner if he's able to maintain that level of play.

He's been somewhat up-and-down during his career. If he plays like he did in Denver last season, the deal could prove to be a steal for the Giants. If he struggles, the Giants may be back on the market in a couple of years. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Rodgers-Cromartie will earn $16 million during the first two years of the deal.

Bengals ink Rey

The Cincinnati Bengals watched some talent walk out the door this offseason, with left tackle Anthony Collins and defensive end Michael Johnson joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On Saturday, the Bengals bucked that trend by re-signing linebacker Vincent Rey, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The deal is for two years, and the terms are undisclosed. Rey is a rotational inside linebacker for Cincinnati, filling in for Rey Maualuga at times. When Maualuga missed three games last season, Rey stepped in and made 36 tackles. Overall, Rey amassed 57 tackles, four sacks and a pair of interceptions last year.

Eagles bring Allen back

The Philadelphia Eagles have re-signed safety Nate Allen to a one-year deal. The terms are unknown.

Allen has spent his four-year career with the Eagles, who selected him in the second round of the 2010 draft. Last year, Allen had a career-high 82 tackles, to accompany a sack and interception.

Bucs add Fletcher, Cousins; Jenkins visiting

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the more active teams in free agency, bringing in Josh McCown, Alterraun Verner, Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson. Now, Tampa Bay has added linebacker Dane Fletcher and offensive lineman Oniel Cousins, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Fletcher comes over from the New England Patriots, where he had 26 tackles and a pair of sacks in 15 games last season. Cousins has played six seasons at guard for the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

Cornerback Mike Jenkins could be the next man to sign on the dotted line with the Buccaneers, as he has a visit on Monday with the team, per Rand Getlin of Yahoo. Last year with the Oakland Raiders, Jenkins had two picks. He spent his first five campaigns with Dallas.

Seahawks retain Hauschka

The Seattle Seahawks brought back one of their own on Monday, signing kicker Steven Hauschka to a three-year deal worth $9.15 million with $3.35 million guaranteed, according to Ian Rapoport.

Hauschka made 33 of 35 field goal attempts last season for the Super Bowl champs, his third year with Seattle. Hauschka also hit three field goals of 50 or more yards despite playing in a colder venue for half of his season.

Raiders land James Jones

Oakland added to its wide receiver corps on Monday, signing former Packer James Jones. Jones was arguably the top free agent wide receiver left on the board. While he may not be a flashy signing, he should make and immediate impact in Oakland.

The three-year deal reunites Jones with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie worked in the Packers' front office when the team drafted Jones. Jones is coming off a career year where he finished with 817 receiving yards.

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