According to Melton's agent, Jordan Woy, Melton signed with the Buccaneers:
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the deal was for one year, and Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News added it's "for up to $5 million. He gets $3.75 million at signing, plus bonuses, incentives, per source."
Melton signed a contract with the Cowboys last offseason after four years with the Chicago Bears. It was a one-year pact with three option years, but Dallas opted to decline the option on Feb. 14, per Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News:
It was a cost-cutting move on the Cowboys' part, as they saved $9 million by allowing Melton to hit free agency:
Ultimately, the former University of Texas standout didn't live up to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' lofty expectations, according to George:
I think we all had hoped from the day that he got there and OTAs that he would be at Pro Bowl form. That was probably unrealistic but that's a goal. As he went on through the season, he evolved and improved. He had a setback or two that I would call nicks, probably impacted his overall steady progression to get back to where he was that year in Chicago before he got hurt. But in general, I did see progress with how he rehabbed from his injury.
While Melton didn't play at the level he had maintained as a Pro Bowl selection in 2012, he was quite impressive considering he had missed most of the 2013 campaign with a torn ACL.
Melton finished the 2014 season with just 15 tackles, but he registered five sacks, which helped him rate among the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the NFL, per Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus:
The fact that he maintained his ability to pressure the quarterback was a positive sign, but it is understandable that the Cowboys felt they couldn't make a long-term investment in him.
Dallas entered the offseason needing to upgrade its defense in order to take the next step toward becoming an elite team. It could be argued that letting Melton go was a setback, but the unit wasn't good enough with or without his services.
Melton proved in 2014 that he still has value, though, even if it was just in a situational pass-rush role. Because of that, it isn't surprising he has found a new landing spot.
The former fourth-round pick is in his prime, and there is reason to believe he'll be even better in 2015 now that he is another year removed from the ACL tear.
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