There’s very little chance the Dallas Cowboys end up re-signing Jason Hatcher or giving him the franchise tag due to their cap space problems, opening up a possibility to sign a pro bowl defensive lineman for other teams, with the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers showing plenty of interest.
After a career high 11 sacks last season, one of the only bright spots in an awful defensive year for the Cowboys, Hatcher is sure to get some money going his way. The Cowboys might be most cap-limited team in the NFL right now even after all their contract restructuring, making keeping Hatcher almost a mission impossible kind of effort.
He has also said he plans on going to the highest bidder, meaning no hometown discount or loyalty to the only team he has played for, being on the Cowboys since 2006, becoming a starter only over the last three seasons, including making his first Pro Bowl last year.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport the Tampa Bay Buccaners have already hinted their interest in Hatcher, hoping to partner him up with Gerlad McCoy, who had nine sacks last season. There’s also some sort of agreement about Hatcher being a very good fit for the Tampa 2 system, proving to be very solid against both the run and the pass.
Obviously, it’s going to take teams with cap space (and a need for this player) to make the move, and the Patriots, bears and Chiefs are the next likeliest teams to try and sign Hatcher the moment free agency begins.
In eight season with the Cowboys, Hatcher has 27 sacks and three defensive touchdowns. He’ll be 32 when next season begins, so it’s unlikely that he’ll get too big of a contract, or something that gives him more than two years of guaranteed money despite his rise to relative stardom last year.