The Chicago Bears got weaker on the defensive line on Tuesday night.
Chicago Bears free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton signed a 1-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night. The deal also includes an option for a second year. The Cowboys targeted Melton from the start of free agency and faced competition from the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, and Minnesota Vikings. The Bears never made an offer for Melton to return as they were waiting to hear back from their free agent. The Bears were operating under the assumption that Melton would test the market and then determine whether or not the team matched his market value.
Melton is a big loss for the Bears defensive line. Melton may have missed most of the 2013 season due to a torn ACL injury, but when he is healthy, Melton plays on a Pro-Bowl level. Melton’s departure only glorifies the gaping hole the Bears have at the defensive tackle position.
The expectation is that the Bears will look to replace Melton on the defensive line with their first round selection of the 2014 NFL Draft. Though, the Bears also re-signed Jeremiah Ratliff this off-season. Ratliff has been a perennial Pro-Bowl player throughout his career and is entering the 2014 season completely healthy. A healthy Ratliff may go a long way in replacing the production the Bears will be losing from Melton signing with the Cowboys.