- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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A week after the Chicago Bears placed their franchise tag on defensive tackle Henry Melton, his agent on Friday said his client has accepted the designation and will sign the $8.45 million tender offer on Saturday or Monday.
"Clients Henry Melton, Bears, and (defensive end) Anthony Spencer,
(Dallas) Cowboys, have both accepted their franchise tenders. We will now focus on long term deals," Jordan Woy tweeted.
By signing the franchise tender, Melton isn't locked into the guaranteed salary of $8.45 million; the sides still can work out a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline. However, the team now can't rescind the offer.
In addition, the Bears now can fine Melton if he misses any of their mandatory offseason work.
Melton, though, isn't expected to miss any time as a holdout as it appears the sides remain in productive negotiations.
Melton wrote on Twitter last Friday that it's "good to be a Bear for another year," and added, "Hopefully we can get a long-term deal done soon!"
Sitting at close to $4 million under the NFL's salary cap, the Bears share Melton's sentiments.
They placed the franchise designation on running back Matt Forte last offseason before signing him to a long-term deal just before the start of training camp.
The Bears rolled over $3.2 million in unused cap space from the 2012 season to 2013, which put them at approximately $12 million under the cap prior to applying the franchise tag on Melton. That move took a significant amount of their cap, but it's expected the Bears will work to free up cap space prior to Tuesday's opening of free agency through restructures, new contracts with players at the end of their deals, roster reductions or a combination of the three.
Melton, who occupies one of the key positions in the Bears' scheme, tied for third among NFL defensive tackles last season with six sacks. He also forced two fumbles.
In the past two seasons, Melton has produced 13 sacks, second among defensive tackles in the NFL during that span.
21hMel Kiper Jr.
2dEric D. Williams