Barring a last-minute uptick in negotiations, the Bears will use the franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton by the Monday afternoon deadline.
By doing so, the Bears give themselves until mid-July to work out a long-term deal, as they did a year ago with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.
The Bears, in essence, guaranteed Forte consecutive franchise tenders. To use that same strategy on Melton, the Bears would have to guarantee $18.59 million. The franchise tag for defensive tackles, according to NFL Network, is $8.45 million. If the Bears used it again next offseason, Melton would get 120 percent, or $10.14 million.
But will that be enough for Melton, who is 26 years old?
He just completed his rookie deal, which paid him $565,000 last season. He could command more in free agency, but the Bears aren't likely to let him get there.
So will he pass on an extra $10 million and gamble that he'll have another good season?
Last year, a record 21 teams used the franchise tag. As of Friday afternoon, only one -- the Cincinnati Bengals -- used it. Several others re expected, though, before Monday's 3 p.m. CST deadline.