September 23, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour (92) gestures during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Steelers 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Injury are part of pro football and how teams deal with them defines whether they are winners or losers. The Chicago Bears took their first big one of the year when Henry Melton tore his ACL. Forced to adjust to life without him, could they look to veteran Richard Seymour in NFL free agency?
Henry Melton loss moves Nate Collins and Zach Minter up on depth chart
Defense has remained the cornerstone of Chicago Bears football since ancient times and the early part of the 2013 season is no different. They lead the league with 11 takeaways and three defensive touchdowns. Still they couldn’t make it to 3-0 without avoiding a serious injury to one of their core players. Henry Melton, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle in 2012 and given the franchise tag as a result, tragically felt his knee go out against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The diagnosis is a torn ACL, effectively ending his season. Chicago had depth concerns at defensive tackle before the season and now it’s about to get tested. Reserve Nate Collins will take over at starter opposite Stephen Paea while undrafted rookie Zach Minter should start appearing on game days after being inactive through the first three weeks. Collins has experience playing nose tackle and Melton’s position at three-technique, so the drop off shouldn’t be huge but it is a concern.
Julius Peppers contract move opens the door to sign Seymour
The question is how do the Bears fill the roster spot? There are some tweaks they can make with the line such as sliding a defensive end inside but in reality they probably will have to scour the trade market and NFL free agency for help. On the subject of the latter, they may have an opportunity. Up until recently Chicago was right up against the salary cap, which in turn limited the money they could spend on free agents if they wanted to. That took a new turn when the team re-negotiated the contract of star defensive end Julius Peppers. The move added an extra $2 million in cap space and gave the Bears $5 million overall. It isn’t a ton but it’s certainly enough to sign a slightly more expensive free agent if they had to. One they should have an eye on is Richard Seymour. First thought that will come to mind is a defensive tackle with diminishing skills who turns 34 in October. However, he’s also a savvy veteran who went to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and made seven overall in his career. He had three sacks a year ago for a bad Raiders team and has proven durable save for last season when he was dogged by a hamstring problem. The Chicago Bears don’t need a savior. Their defense is still good without Henry Melton. What they could use is a quick fix who can help with their depth issues. Richard Seymour is experienced and good enough to pay a nice chunk of money for a short-term deal.