DT, Henry Melton
Melton cost the Buccaneers a cool $3.75 million, including the second highest base salary on the defensive line. For all of that, the Buccaneers got one start and a career low in sacks.
A disciple of dismissed head coach Lovie Smith, Melton spent his first five years in Chicago before going to Dallas for a year, and then on to Tampa.
Melton started his career well, and seemed destined for big things. Despite being selected in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, he was able to work his way into a starting role in Smith’s vaunted Bears defense, and in 2011 Melton finished second on the team in sacks with seven. In 2012, Melton turned in six more sacks, but added 44 tackles and was named to his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Unfortunately, that’s where his ascent ended. Smith was fired following Melton’s Pro Bowl season, and in week three of the 2013 season, Melton tore his ACL against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would never play another snap for the Bears, and since has turned in two sub-par seasons in a row, looking like he just might not ever return to Pro Bowl form.
The Buccaneers will be looking for new blood on a defensive line which failed to pressure the quarterback during most of the season. With Melton headed to free agency already, there’s no reason Jason Licht should feel compelled to bring him back at even a fraction of what they paid him in 2015.
Next: Bobby Rainey