NFL free agency: Henry Melton signs franchise tender with Bears

Jonathan Daniel

The defensive tackle can still work out a long-term deal with the team, but is scheduled to make almost $8.5 million in 2013.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton signed his franchise tender on Tuesday, according to a release from the team's website. Melton will earn $8.45 million in 2013 as a result of the team placing the franchise tag on him.

It's still possible that Melton and the Bears can work out a long-term deal this offseason, as the sides have until July 15 to negotiate. The Bears did exactly that last season, signing running back Matt Forte to a long-term deal just months after placing the franchise tag on him. It's also the team's first major move on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, after signing offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod and tight end Martellus Bennett on Tuesday.

Melton was a fourth-round pick by the Bears in 2009, and has developed into one of the better pass rushing defensive tackles in the NFL. He made it to his first career Pro Bowl in 2012, racking up 33 tackles, 24 quarterback hurries, and six sacks.

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