The Bears on Friday placed a franchise tag on defensive tackle Henry Melton, a four-year veteran who was due to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
|Henry Melton pressures Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson last season at Soldier Field.|
The tag assures Melton of earning what has been reported to be around $8.45 million in 2013. Even with the tag, the Bears can still negotiate a long-term contract with Melton through July.
That's exactly what transpired last year when general manager Phil Emery and the Bears placed a franchise tag on running back Matt Forte and later signed him to a four-year deal.
"Henry has been a good player for us and we are using the franchise tag so his development continues as a Bear," Emery said. "We will continue our conversations with Henry and work toward a multi-year agreement."
Melton, 26, was voted to his first career Pro Bowl in 2012 after registering 33 tackles with six sacks, five tackles-for-loss, a team-high 24 quarterback pressures and two forced fumbles.
The 2009 fourth-round draft pick from Texas enjoyed a breakout season in 2011 when he recorded a career-high seven sacks, third most by an NFL defensive tackle behind the Bengals' Geno Atkins and the Raiders' Tommy Kelly, who had 7.5 apiece.