Friday, January 25, 2013
Will Melton be back for the Bears?
By Tim Kavanagh
UPDATE: While we don't know exactly how the Bears feel about their impending free agent DT, Melton remains optimistic that he'll get a deal signed to return to Chicago.
"We were talking during the season," Melton told "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000 Friday afternoon, via ESPNChicago.com. "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."
As the offseason of change commenced for the Chicago Bears, one of the key situations we've been monitoring is the negotiations between the club and impending free agent DT Henry Melton. A converted RB, Melton has turned into a force as the under tackle in the Bears' defensive scheme, combining for 13.0 sacks the past two seasons, and a team-leading 24 QB pressures in 2012, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com. So will he be back for them in 2013 and beyond?
There are certainly some teams that hope he won't be, as Melton could function as a pocket-collapsing inside presence for 4-3 teams, and potentially as a DE in a three-man front. In other words, there is definitely a market for his services if he does reach free agency this offseason.
Here's Dickerson with more on the intricacies of the situation:
Jeff DickersonCap space may be an issue
"The question isn't whether the Bears want to re-sign Melton; it's at what price. The Bears negotiated with Melton's camp during the regular season, but the two sides were unable to strike a deal. When that happens, it's for one of two reasons, or sometimes both: money and years. With a combined 13 sacks over the past two seasons and a team-high 24 quarterback pressures in 2012, Melton probably deserves to be one of the higher paid defensive tackles in the NFL, but that range can cover anywhere from $5 million to $6 million a year or more. Finding the right dollar amount is obviously important, and so is the length of the contract. The Bears' preference likely would be to sign Melton to a five-year deal, while he will no doubt be looking to commit to just four years so he can potentially reach free agency again around the time he turns 30. The franchise tag is always an option, but that mechanism, while collectively bargained in the NFL CBA, can lead to awkward and potentially messy situations. If the Bears want Melton badly enough, the two sides should be able to work out a deal. But keep in mind the Bears have several needs to address this offseason, and only so much salary cap space, so they can't overpay to keep just one player. "