He May Never Return To Pro Bowl Form, But Henry Melton Could Be A Cheap, Pass Rushing Addition For The New York Giants.
During the 2016 offseason the New York Giants went on a big time spending spree to upgrade their defensive line, after the unit managed just 23 sacks the year before. To improve on that total (which was the third worst mark around the league), the Giants brought in Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison to pair with the team’s current stars, Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Hankins.
While the signings were a huge step in the right direction for Big Blue, the team still has some serious question marks in the depth behind that impressive foursome. Damontre Moore was cut last season, Robert Ayers left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Markus Kuhn was picked up by the New England Patriots, and Cullen Jenkins and George Selvie are free agents. Meanwhile, the team missed out on Adrian Claiborne and Charles Johnson during free agency, while the recently drafted Owa Odighizuwa and Jay Bromley struggled to stay on the field and have yet to show much NFL promise.
Kerry Wynn, Louis Nix III, Montori Hughes, and a slew of undrafted free agents make up the remainder of the giants’ depth chart along the defensive line. With over $18 million still remaining in cap space, the Giants would be wise to pick up some veteran depth before the start of the season.
Henry Melton could be a great pickup for the team as a veteran pass rusher, capable of playing both defensive tackle and defensive end. Melton served as a solid backup at both those positions during his run with the Bucs last season.
A Pro Bowler in 2012, Melton recorded 32 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles during that all-star worthy campaign with the Chicago Bears. A torn ACL cost him the final 13 games of his 2013 season, and a one-year deal loaded with incentives from the Dallas Cowboys the following year resulted in just 15 tackles on the year from Melton. Though he recorded five sacks that year, all of them came during the first nine games of the season and Melton’s production never bounced back after that.
However, last year Melton found his niche as a backup utility defensive lineman with Tampa Bay. He posted 30 tackles (his second highest mark of his career), to go along with two sacks, two passes defended, one forced fumble, and two fumbles recovered.
The 29-year-old Melton could likely be had for just a one-year $840,000 deal, with the team guaranteeing only about $70,000, making barely a dent in the Giants’ remaining cap space. The proposed deal would be almost identical to the pacts fellow defensive tackles Kyle Love (29 years old) and Ricardo Mathews (28 years old) received, with Love coming off a 19 tackle/three sack season and Mathews a 22 tackle/one sack year.
If New York can get Melton to put pen to paper on that contract they’d be adding an experienced a versatile defensive lineman to their roster, greatly upgrading the team’s paper-thin depth at the position. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would also have another skilled lineman to use as he attempts to re-implement his famed NASCAR package this season. Melton’s ability as a pass rusher and tackler would make him a perfect fit within the NASCAR set.
Giants fans could also take comfort in knowing that Melton’s presumed deal would be much less than the one year/$1.2 million contract with $120,00 guaranteed that the 30-year-old Markus Kuhn received for his 20 tackle/half sack season from the Pats.