Melton to play under Bears franchise tag

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The Chicago Bears and Defensive Tackle (DT) Henry Melton couldn’t agree on a new long-term contract by Monday afternoon’s NFL mandated deadline, so the fourth-year defender from Texas will play under the franchise tag designation this season for approximately $8.5 million.

The Bears and Melton’s agent were far apart in negotiations, so Melton should be motivated to demonstrate his talents coming off two straight seasons in which he collected a total of 13 sacks overall, second behind Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins (20 sacks).  Inside rushers are at a premium in the league, so barring injury, Melton could command a steep price tag with a stellar 2013. He understands he’s one of many Bears priorities. There are a lot of decisions to be made, especially after this season,” Melton
noted. “A lot of the defensive guys, their contracts are going to be up after the season. … Guys like Peanut (Tillman) and Major (Wright).

Melton hasn’t led the contract discussions affect his preparation though. As the team reports to Bourbonnais next week, Melton is seeking to improve his game. “I’m really working on keeping my quickness,” Melton said. “Getting to the
quarterback from the inside … it’s just hard to find guys who can do that. I feel like I have the necessary ingredients.”

The Bears meanwhile, will face the prospects of having three top salary earners become free agents after the year. Quarterback Jay Cutler, Cornerback Charles Tillman, and Melton are each entering the last year of their deals, so General Manager Phil Emery will have some huge decisions to make as he continues to restock the club with young playmakers on both sides.

The task of sizing up the current Bears roster begins for Emery, Marc Trestman, and Bears fans late next week at Olivet Nazarene.

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