The Chicago Bears are 3-0 and appear to be in complete cruise control atop the NFC North right now. But it’s not all good news in Chicago, as the team lost a huge piece for the season this week.
On Moday afternoon, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the 2013 season. Melton was a huge piece to the Bears’ Cover-2 scheme, as he was a three-technique dominator along the defensive front.
The Bears simply won’t be able to replace Melton. He’s one of the best at what he does in the NFL. Nate Collins, Stephen Paea and Zach Minter will all likely be auditioned as potential replacements, but none of them will be able to fill his shoes.
In 2012, Melton racked up 32 tackles and six sacks.
The injury is also a severe blow to Melton’s future prospects. He was playing this season on a one-year, $8.45 million franchise tender with eyes towards earning a long-term deal. Now he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season and will have to prove his health.
Melton is just 26 and was considered a rising star around the league, so he will find his way on to a roster next season, but it won’t be for the bank-breaking amount of money that he could have made with another Pro Bowl season.
The Bears selected Melton with a fourth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He had a decent final season at Texas but has clearly developed far more than anyone thought he would after entering the NFL.
Chicago will miss him desperately for the rest of the season.