Henry Melton was hoping to reach a long-term deal with the Chicago Bears, but instead he'll have to play the 2013 season under the franchise tag applied by the squad, as the two sides could not come to terms on an extension.
The four-year contract Melton signed after being drafted in the fourth round out of Texas expired after this past season, when the defensive tackle earned his first Pro Bowl bid. After receiving the franchise tag, he'll make $8.45 million this year, but the 26-year-old had been in negotiations for a deal with more long-term security, reportedly seeking five years and around $20 million. The window to sign an extension ended Monday, and with no deal in place, he'll have to go to work under the franchise tender.
Melton is easily one of the most productive defensive tackles in the league, 6'3 and 295 pounds, but boasting the explosiveness that made him a running back when he started his college career. He tallied seven sacks in 2011 and six this past year, creating havoc on the Bears' front alongside defensive end Julius Peppers and nose tackle Stephen Paea. The Bears and Melton can once again try to figure out a deal to keep him in Chicago for the future after the year, but with no extension, he'll be an unrestricted free agent after this year.