Ratliff deal shouldn't affect Melton

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
8:00
AM ET
The signing of Jeremiah Ratliff to a two-year deal Wednesday night doesn't end Henry Melton's days in Chicago, but it didn't solidify a potential return either.
Melton
Now, with at least one of the defensive tackle spots solidified, it likely becomes easier for the Chicago Bears to opt to fill Melton’s spot through the draft, given the number of talented prospects in this year’s class, the team’s desire to infuse youth on defense, not to mention the fact the rookie slotting system makes it much more feasible (and sustainable for the next few years) from a salary cap perspective. Perhaps that’s why Melton’s representatives fully expect their client to speak to other teams on March 8, when the window opens up for them to negotiate with other clubs.

The Bears are probably better with Melton than without him, with the most important caveat of a potential deal between the sides making sense for the club financially.

Coming off surgery to repair his left ACL, Melton isn’t expected to be able to command megabucks in free agency. So he’ll likely sniff around to see what’s out there, only to find other teams will likely be offering deals similar to what the Bears might put on the table.

So in considering potential landing spots, Melton may need to basically just count out 2014 as the year to get a lucrative deal, and look at what playing next to Ratliff next season could possibly net in the future. After all, Melton is coming off a 2013 season in which he was paid handsomely; and at age 27, he’ll have another opportunity to earn a rich, multi-year deal, provided he proves his mettle on the field while staying out of trouble off of it.

To me, playing opposite Ratliff provides the best chance for that. What do you think?

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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