News broke Saturday that the Dallas Cowboys will not pick up the three-year, $24 million option on the contract of defensive tackle Henry Melton. That makes the 28-year-old former Pro Bowler a free agent just one year after Dallas signed him to a four-year, $27.5 million deal.
The Giants could use an upgrade at defensive tackle after having the NFL's worst run defense in 2014. Is Melton a player who could provide one? Let's take a closer look. He is certainly an interesting story.
Melton made the Pro Bowl as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2012, but played only three games in 2013 before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Cowboys, desperate to jolt a defense that was horrible in 2013, gambled and signed Melton to a back-loaded contract that gave them an out after one year. They have now chosen to exercise that out. Blogging The Boys says the Cowboys "wisely decided" not to pick up Melton's option.
Melton started only three games for the Cowboys, with the Dallas Morning News saying he "never seemed to fully get back to 100 percent from his knee surgery."
At his best, Melton is a dominant pass rusher from the defensive tackle spot. He had seven sacks in 2011, six in 2012 and still managed five sacks in 2014 while playing only 433 snaps. That is about 200 fewer than he played in those two full seasons in Chicago. Per Pro Football Focus, Melton was eighth among defensive tackle in pass rush productivity last season, fifth in 2012 and fourth in 2011.
The problem, especially when looking at whether or not Melton would fit the Giants, is that he has historically been less than adequate as a run defender. Melton's PFF run defense grades were -7.3 in 2014, -4.8 in 2012 and -3.7 in 2011. His run stop percentage in 2014 was 3.7 percent, 76th out of 82 defensive tackles who played at least 25 percent of their team's defensive snaps. Oddly, in 2012 his run stop percentage of 11.6 percent was best in the league despite his overall negative grade. In 2011. he was 28th out of 84 tackles who qualified.
Can you draw conclusion from that? Perhaps it would be that at his best the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Melton is capable of making 'splash' plays against the run but has been inconsistent in that area.
Is Melton a fit for the Giants playing next to Johnathan Hankins? At first glance, his skills seem a bit redundant to those of both Cullen Jenkins and Jay Bromley, known more as pass rushers than run stuffers.
Of course, the upside to a player like this if he can get close to pre-knee surgery form is far greater than the upside for players like Mike Patterson or Markus Kuhn.
Coming off an unsuccessful year in Dallas you wonder what the market will be for Melton. If you can get him on a low-cost, one-year 'prove it' type contract would you be interested?
Your thoughts, Giants fans?