There will be no holdout drama from Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton. On Friday evening, Melton’s agent announced that his client would accept the Bears’ franchise tag, assuring that Melton would be participating in all of the offseason activities and guaranteeing $8.45 million in 2013.
The Bears and Melton can continue to work on a deal up until July 15th, so there is the possibility of working out a long term deal that would lower Melton’s cap hit and give the Bears some much needed cap space. It would also allow Melton some longer term security. We saw this play out last season when the Bears tagged running back Matt Forte and worked out a deal on the eve of training camp.
Melton is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance after his second consecutive solid season as a disruptive force in the middle of the Bears’ defensive line. He’s one of the few cornerstone defensive players on the Bears defense under the age of 30, so it’s not surprising that Phil Emery and the Bears would pay up to keep him around.
It will be interesting to see how Melton works in Mel Tucker’s defensive scheme. While the 3-technique position was relied upon to get upfield and penetrate to pressure the quarterback in Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 scheme, we don’t know exactly how Tucker will deploy his guys. Melton and fellow defensive linemen Stephen Paea, Corey Wooten and Shea McClellin will be relied upon to take the next step and become the core of the next generation of the Bears defense.