Unfortunately, Henry Melton will not have a long-term contract with the Chicago Bears this year. Both sides have been trying to hammer out a deal for months on end, but the deadline for negotiations has passed and Melton will be making $8.45 under the franchise tag in 2013. Chicago is known for its defense, so you can imagine that the Bears have surely been in a similar position before
Well, anyone that remembers the bulky deal that the Bears threw Tommie Harris‘ way in 2008, knows that the Monsters of the Midway aren’t in uncharted waters.
Coming off of three All-Pro seasons and entering the last year of his rookie contract, Harris was given a deal that was seen by many as expensive. In June 2008 Harris accepted four-year contract extension that initially included $37.9 million in new money with $10 million of the deal fully guaranteed. However, the infamous No. 91 hit a massive down spiral after signing the deal and was cut from the team in 2010 after a season of just 1.5 sacks.
Given Harris’s painful decline, the hesitancy on the Bears’ part should be understood.
On the other hand, Melton has far less injury issues than Harris did when he signed his deal five summers ago. Not to mention the production has been nearly the same — in three years at the NFL level Melton has averaged 5.1 sacks a season and has missed three games in his career. Conversely, Harris averaged 4.8 sacks over four seasons and had shown signs that his body was starting to feel the effects of the gruesome schedule by sitting out four games in 2006.
Don’t shoot down the defensive tackle comparison either, because Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs started the conversation in 2010 by saying this when talking about Melton’s All-Pro honors:
“We haven’t seen a force like that since Tommie Harris.”
The Harris deal may have made the Bears rather gun-shy, but they can’t let his ghost keep them from signing Melton to a well-deserved long-term deal.