Why keep Hayden instead of some of the other defensive linemen? Good question. Henry Melton had a solid season last year, but he was locked into a deal that was would have forced the Cowboys to take a $9 million cap hit in 2015 had they kept him. So the Cowboys let him go and he signed with Tampa Bay. One of last year’s starting defensive ends, George Selvie, signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the New York Giants, while Anthony Spencer is on Seattle’s radar. I think the Cowboys probably wanted to keep Selvie or Spencer, or both, but the Greg Hardy signing probably compelled those two players to explore other options. There is still a chance they could bring back Spencer.
Hayden is one of those “backbone” guys every defense needs. He isn’t flashy and his numbers don’t look productive, but he shows up for every game, understands the scheme, understands his role and does all of that without reservation. He also does it for a smaller paycheck than any of the three aforementioned players, a benefit to these cost-conscious Cowboys.