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Bears put franchise tag on Henry Melton

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.

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