Originally posted on Midway Illustrated  |  Last updated 6/4/12

Lost in all the Matt Forte and Brian Urlacher free agent talk is the player who might be the most important player on the Bears defense over the next decade, Henry Melton.  Lovie Smith has stated publicly that the three technique DT is the most important position in his Tampa-2 defense and Henry Melton fills that role.  Melton is also a free agent after the 2012 season and if he duplicates his 2011 performance or even improves upon it, his stock will go up dramatically.

Melton had seven sacks last year and was the second most productive pass rushing DT in the NFL last year behind only Geno Atkins.  Melton showed flashes in his first full year playing in 2010 and was talked up prior to the 2011 season and did not disappoint.  In only his second full year playing, his first full year starting Melton had 34 quarterback pressures to go with the seven sacks.

So the question now becomes why haven't we heard any talk about a Henry Melton extension?  Why aren't the Bears getting a deal done with one of their best young rising stars on defense before his price tag jumps astronomically?

In addition to needed to extend Melton for financial reasons, the Bears need to extend him for depth purposes.  The defensive tackle position only has three competent players on the roster at the moment after the loss of Amobi Okoye and the release of Anthony Adams.

The policy in the Chicago has always been to wait until the off-season before a player enters their final contract year to discuss contract extensions, and it was only violated once in the case of Devin Hester.  Melton is in that time frame where he should be extended before the start of training camp.  Melton signed the typical four year deal that draft picks selected after round one receive and is in the final year of his deal.

We know the importance of Brian Urlacher to the Bears as a future hall of famer, but Urlacher is 34-years-old and has maybe as much as three more years left as a top player.  We know the importance of Matt Forte to the Bears given his success and production in Chicago. Running backs are a dime a dozen, and their importance is even less important now than it was a decade ago.  Those two topics have already been covered extensively, now the Bears must make a move to sign Henry Melton to a contract extension.

Melton is the number one priority right now and the Bears should act like it.  Pass rushing DTs are an extremely rare commodity and the Bears currently have on of the best in the NFL who will only get better.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name every NFL regular season MVP

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker