Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline has come and gone, and the Chicago Bears did not reach a long-term agreement with franchise-tagged Henry Melton. Melton will play the 2013 season under the tender he signed while making $8.45 million. The Bears had hoped to come to an agreement with the defensive tackle, but it will have to wait until the end of the season now.
Melton had another productive season in 2012 as he racked up six sacks and 44 tackles. He also added two forced fumbles. This came after Melton tallied seven sacks in 2011. Chicago made sure he didn’t get away this offseason by placing the franchise tag on the former Texas Longhorn, but his contract situation moving forward will be on the minds of Phil Emery and the rest of the front office.
The Bears already lost a couple defensive lineman this offseason as they released tackle Matt Toeaina, who is still currently a free agent, and let defensive end Israel Indonije walk, who signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions last month. Chicago did draft a defensive end Cornelius Washington out of Georgia in the sixth round in this year’s NFL Draft. However, losing Melton would be a critical hit to the defensive front that has been so successful in recent years. Alongside Julius Peppers, Melton anchors the defensive line.
Look for Henry Melton to have another good season in 2013 as he will be looking to prove himself worth of a long-term contract worth a lot of money. It may be tough for Chicago to keep him around after this season, assuming he has another great season. He will be able to get some large offers from other teams, but should the team contend for a Super Bowl this year, playing in Chicago may seem more appealing.