Henry Melton, Bears progressing slowly in long-term contract talks

Dilip Vishwanat

After signing his franchise tender, long-term contract negotiations between Melton and the Bears have been slow.

Now that Henry Melton has signed the franchise tender offered to him by the Bears, which guarantees him $8.45 million for the 2013 season, the negotiations between the defensive end and the Bears have been slow, according to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs.

Negotiations moved much faster between the Bears and running back Matt Forte a year ago, but that had a lot to do with the fact Forte didn't sign his tender and didn't show up to offseason voluntary workouts. According to Biggs, it takes pressure from the July 15 deadline to sign tagged players to long-term deals to get anything moving. Last year, the Bears signed Forte to a four-year deal worth $30.4 million, including $17.1 million guaranteed.

Since the deadline is still a couple months away, the two sides don't seem to be in a rush to sign a new deal.

"I'm not going to really think too much about it," Melton said. "It's a decision that comes from within and upstairs if they want to keep me long term. We're just kind of talking through some things. Everyone is getting set up and getting the drafted guys done. Hopefully we can sit down and get something done."

Even if the two sides don't come to an agreement, Melton won't be worried. In a contract year in 2012, he made 44 tackles and six sacks, and playing 2013 without a long-term deal would just make him an unrestricted free agent when the 2014 league year begins.

"Even if I am not in a contract year I am trying to be the anchor for this defense on the D-line, trying to get after the quarterback," he said. "Motivation is not an issue for me. I am going after a championship. If I am doing my thing the right way, then our defense is doing its thing."

In the meantime, Melton, a fourth-round pick out of Texas in 2009, is focusing on new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who was hired in the offseason. Melton said that Tucker's system won't change what he has done on the defensive line very much and he's just working hard to get better.

"He's really just trying to keep implementing what has been working for us and adding a couple things to it," Melton said. "It's nothing that is going to be too crazy. We're going to come out here and work.

"I am just still working toward being the best. I can definitely be a lot better. Everybody can get better. I am still working. I am out here working to be great."

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