Bears DT Henry Melton set to play 2013 under franchise tag

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Henry Melton will play under his franchise tender for the Bears in 2013. (USATSI)
Henry Melton will play under his franchise tender for the Bears in 2013. (USATSI)

It's national franchise tag day, which means lots of action by the 4 p.m. ET deadline. Or not much? We've seen one deal (Ryan Clady and the Broncos), learned of one that won't happen (Pat McAfee and the Colts) and now have a second player who will fall in the latter scenario: Henry Melton of the Bears.

Melton, who was tagged by Chicago at the beginning of March, is just 26 and has 13 sacks in the last two seasons since becoming a starter. He made the Pro Bowl last season. But he told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune that he won't be working out a long-term deal with the Bears:

That tag will pay Melton $8.9 million for 2013 in the form of a one-year, fully guaranteed deal. Reports have targeted his desire for a hefty long-term deal: purportedly, Melton wanted something along the lines of a five-year contract with between $18 million and $20 million guaranteed.

That explains why CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora wrote recently that "there hasn't been that sense of urgency" when it comes to the Bears and Melton working out a deal; Chicago understands his value but clearly is balking at the large sum of cash Melton wants."

But if they're balking now, wait til they see how much the defensive tackle will command on the open market in his prime. If he plays as well the second time around in a contract year as he did in 2012, he'll be staring at a huge payday. Barring a second franchise tag (which could be problematic with Jay Cutler also entering a contract year in 2013), it stands to reason that this could be Melton's final season in Chicago.

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