As expected, the Bears placed the franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton.
While on vacation, Melton was informed of the team's decision.
"It just feels good to be thought of so highly," Melton told the Sun-Times. "Been a long road and now just want to get a long term deal done and remain a Bear for years to come."
The 2014 franchise tag for defensive tackles is $8.45 million. Melton, though, clearly would prefer a long-term deal. A fourth-round pick in 2009, Melton has established himself as one of the elite defensive tackles in the NFL. Just 26 years old, Melton started his collegiate career at Texas as a running back but transitioned to defensive tackle.
Melton has shined the last three seasons for the Bears, culminating in a Pro Bowl berth in 2012.
The Bears utilized the franchise tag for a second consecutive offseason. They did so last year with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte. They were one of the record 21 teams to use the franchise tag, and they were among 12 that secured the player to a long-term deal.
The Bears have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with Melton, otherwise he'll play the 2013 season for $8.45 million. If the Bears franchise him again next offseason, that base salary would jump to $10.14 million.