The play of the Bears defense has earned plenty of publicity for some of the players helping the unit keep the Bears on top of the NFC North.
Some, like linebacker Brian Urlacher and defensive end Julius Peppers, have been well known for a long time. Others, like cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, are getting more attention than they’ve gotten in the past. Defensive tackle Henry Melton is in that latter category as well.
Melton has five sacks, tied with Peppers for the team lead, and 15 quarterback pressures this year, which is a pretty good showing for a player who is finishing out the final year of his rookie contract. Melton had 7.5 sacks last season, so its not like he’s come out of nowhere and his ability to sustain success on the defensive line would make him a tempting target on the open market. Melton would be happy not to let things go that far and would be happy to sign a deal before the season is over.
“Everybody knows that we’ve got a good situation here, and I love the city, and I love the fan base,” Melton said, via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’d like to stay here for a long time.”
According to the NFLPA, the Bears have $4.2 million in cap space right now. They couldn’t use all of that on a deal for Melton or anyone else because of the need to reserve some space in case of needs that have to be filled before the end of the season. Jensen points to the four-year, $24 million deal Kendall Langford signed in St. Louis as a guide for a deal that could keep Melton in Chicago, although there’s always the possibility of using the franchise tag if they can’t work out a longer arrangement.