11:32am: Melton’s one-year contract with Tampa Bay will be worth up to $5MM, with a $3.75MM base value, tweets Todd Archer of ESPN.com.
8:15am: After hosting him for a free agent visit this week, the Buccaneers are finalizing an agreement to sign defensive tackle Henry Melton, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). According to Stroud, the Bucs should be able to officially announce Melton’s deal later today.
Melton, a former fourth-round pick, broke onto the scene with the Bears in 2010, when he finished with 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks. His best season in Chicago came in 2012, when he compiled 32 tackles and six sacks, earning him a trip to the Pro Bowl and a top-six spot on Pro Football Focus’ rankings (subscription required) of defensive tackles. However, his career with the Bears ended rather unceremoniously, as Melton only appeared in three games in 2013 before injuring his ACL.
Melton joined the Cowboys in 2014 and played well in part-time action, recording five sacks. However, the team decided not to pick up his pricey option for 2015 and beyond, making him a free agent this month. Melton is set to become the second notable defensive free agent to head from Dallas to Tampa Bay this week, on the heels of linebacker Bruce Carter signing with the Bucs.
When I ranked my top 50 free agents over the weekend, I placed Melton 49th, noting that despite his past health issues, he can make a real impact when he’s on the field.
Ben Levine contributed to this post.