The deadline for applying the franchise tag is fast approaching and the Bears will have to make a decision on free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton.
Should they choose to apply the tag on Melton, the Bears would not only have a large portion of their salary cap wrapped up in just four defensive players (more than $40 million on Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, and Melton — according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune), but the price tag on Melton would be about $8.3 million, which would eat up most of their roughly $12 million cap space to sign other free agents at positions of need.
My stance on Melton is the same one I held on running back Matt Forte more than a year ago — he’s a good player who probably had the best season he’ll ever have in his career, and signing him to a deal now would be like buying a stock at its highest point.
The Bears are heading in a different direction with a new coaching staff in place and wrapping up all their money in the defense just doesn’t make sense. In today’s offense-driven league, the Bears need to reallocate their money to the offensive side of the ball. Just think what the Bears could do with that money to upgrade the offensive line and finally give Jay Cutler some protection. Or get a speed threat at wide receiver or a tight end that can actually catch the ball and give Cutler a target over the middle of the field.
And speaking of Cutler, the quarterback will be up for an extension after this year. Even if you are a Cutler-basher and feel the Bears should look at different options when his contract runs out — which is a silly perspective, in my opinion — the Bears will still need to wrap up a lot of money in a different quarterback, the single most important position in sports.
As much as the Bears feel they still have an open window at a shot at a Super Bowl, they’re still an aging team that needs to restock with young talent. And even though Melton will only turn 27 this coming season, that money would be better served on the offensive side of the ball, or at least used to fill multiple needs.