Monday at 3 p.m. was the deadline for teams to designate a player with the franchise tag. The franchise tag for defensive tackles is $8.45 million, according to Albert Breer from the NFL Network.
“Henry has been a good player for us and we are using the franchise tag so his development continues as a Bear,” General Manager Phil Emery said in a statement. “We will continue our conversations with Henry and work toward a multi-year agreement.”
The Bears and Melton still have the ability to work out a long-term deal, but the sides apparently are very far apart. Such a long-term deal would be more cap-friendly for the Bears with the salary cap reportedly set at $123 million.
The Bears and Melton have until July 15 to reach terms on a long-term deal. Apparently, the two sides are worlds apart.
Such was the same scenario last season when the Bears placed the franchise tag on running back Matt Forte on March 2. The Bears and Forte agreed to a four-year extension on July 2.
The 26-year-old Melton, coming off a Pro Bowl season, was too valuable a player for the Bears to let test the free-agent market. Any team with interest in Melton now would have to give up two first-round draft picks for him.
With things as they currently stand, the Bears have $3.5 million in cap room after tagging Melton. Signing Melton to a long-term deal would ease the cap hit.
But the Bears still have some financial matters to address and have to consider restructuring the contracts of veterans such as Julius Peppers, who counts $16.3 million against the cap this season.
By Vaughn McClure, Tribune reporter