Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, he's a free agent and yet there is a complete lack of urgency to get a long term deal done. At this time last year the dominant theme within the Chicago Bears and even the NFL media was when was Matt Forte going to get his long term extension. Forte couldn't go anywhere in town without being asked about his contract extension talks. At points even morning news reporters who know nothing about the nuances of NFL contract talks were cornering Forte to ask him about to ask about his contract.
Melton on the other hand has been completely out of the headlines despite his being more valuable to the Bears than Matt Forte. Melton is young, and dominant and succeeds at his job far better than Forte does. This isn't a knock on Forte, rather a compliment to just how great Melton is. Melton did sign his one year franchise tag tender which may explain the lack of urgency, but even that doesn't make sense.
Simply put the Bears have the money to invest in Melton for the long term and aren't doing it to this point. The deadline to get a long term extension done is July 16th so if the Bears are going to act, they're going to have to do so quickly.
Melton's massive $8.75-million salary is guaranteed and is eating up much needed cap space. Extending Melton gives the Bears some roster flexibility they don't currently have. Melton obviously knows this and is likely using this tactic to leverage more money out of the Bears. The Bears are obviously going to have a ton of salary cap space next year and could have even more if they decide to part ways with Julius Peppers' massive salary.
His value is that of a top level defensive tackle as he is one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the league and one of the best run defenders in the league. Melton makes a play in the run game at a higher rate per run snap than any other DT in the NFL. That combined with his versatility and ability to line up off the edge makes him a top level player.
Why there seems to be a lack of urgency regarding Melton's contract extension is a bit of a mystery. How far apart are both sides in negotiations? Is Melton demanding more than the Bears are willing to pay him or are the Bears low balling one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL? Melton deserves to set the market and be the highest paid DT in the NFL especially since Geno Atkins and Ndamukong Suh will likely surpass what Melton will earn when their contracts come due.