The Chicago Bears have already made significant moves to start free agency today. One of the most interesting moves was signing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton to the franchise tender of $8.45 million.
It’s not interesting for the reasons you may think. Obviously, it was announced prior to today that Melton would get the franchise tag. That much we knew. However, the most curious option for the Bears now is working on a long term deal for Melton to stay in Chicago for seasons to come. The significance to this deal is that the Bears could also clear even more cap space by giving Melton a heavy back-ended deal.
The Bears need to resign a few guys of their own still, so this would make perfect sense. Nick Roach, Israel Idonije and Brian Urlacher are the most notable unrestricted free agents still needing a deal. All three were starters last year and are big parts of what Chicago wants to continue to do on defense: Dominate.
Chicago could also use some more room to work out a few more deals in free agency outside of their own guys. They have been said to be interested in free agent guard Brandon Moore from the New York Jets. Their needs on the offensive line are still apparent, even after signing New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl tackle Jermon Bushrod earlier today.
Chicago would also like to go after a linebacker either in free agency or via the NFL draft. I could see them potentially pursuing another wide receiver, cornerback and even a safety to compete with an inconsistent Major Wright. How they choose to address these needs is still not set in stone, but I guess it will be through the draft.
In any event, the Melton franchise tender is a positive for the Bears. It gives them at least one more year with the up-and-coming defensive tackle as well as the potential to keep him in Chicago longer while opening up more cap space. Well done, Chicago Bears.