DT Henry Melton franchise-tagged by Bears

The rash of NFL news on a Friday night in March (this league never sleeps!) continued when the Bears decided to hand defensive tackle Henry Melton the franchise tag, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports.

Assuming Melton, the No. 9 overall free agent on our Top 100 list, signs the deal, Chicago will owe him a one-year, $8.45-million deal (all guaranteed), which is an absolute steal given his production. The Bears confirmed the deal on Friday.

"Henry has been a good player for us and we are using the franchise tag so his development continues as a Bear," Bears GM Phil Emery said. "We will continue our conversations with Henry and work toward a multiyear agreement."

Melton, a former college football running back, had his second consecutive big year in 2012, sacking opposing quarterbacks six times and forcing two fumbles.

"It just feels good to be thought of so highly," Melton told Sean Jensen of the Chicago Tribune. "Been a long road, and now just want to get a long-term deal done and remain a Bear for years to come.”

The defensive tackle, 26, produced seven sacks in 2011 as well.

He was, quietly, the best defensive lineman for the Bears in 2012. Tagging him was a fait accompli for Chicago. The only surprising thing is that it played out on a Friday night.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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