Henry Melton hopeful of Bears deal

Updated: January 25, 2013, 2:58 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton said Friday he remains optimistic the two sides can still finalize a deal before the start of free agency.

Melton and the Bears failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension during the regular season, and he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after his original rookie contract expired following the 2012 season.

"We were talking during the season," Melton told "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I expressed my interest in coming back and staying here. We didn't get anything done. All the coaching changes and all that have delayed it. Hopefully we can get back on schedule of getting something done.

"We were getting somewhere, but we couldn't really come to a deal. Hopefully we can get back on track, because I do want to stay in Chicago."

Selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft, Melton led the Bears with 24 quarterback pressures and was fourth on the defense with six sacks in his first Pro Bowl season. Melton registered seven sacks in 2011, his first season as a full-time starting defensive tackle after he entered the league as a defensive end. Melton spent the early portion of his college career at the University of Texas as a running back.

The athletic Melton thrived at the three-technique defensive tackle position in former coach Lovie Smith's Cover-2 defense. But it's unknown how much new Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker plans to change up the scheme with Smith no longer in the picture. Melton lost another ally when defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli left to become the Dallas Cowboys' defensive-line coach.

"It was sad to see my man Rod go, but it's just how the game is," Melton said. "I was hoping I didn't have to have that happen to me, but it's part of the game. Guys come and go. Hopefully I can build a nice relationship with the new guy.

"I hope (Tucker keeps the defense relatively the same). It wasn't like our defense wasn't getting the job done. Hopefully he tries to kind of implement what we were doing last year and work off that, because we were very dominant."

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.