Sep 09, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Henry Melton (69) reacts after a play against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Chicago defeats Indianapolis 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears Not Expected to Use Franchise Tag


Over the last couple of offseasons, this day on the NFL calendar had a significance for Chicago Bears fans.  Today is the first day NFL teams can apply the Franchise Tag to their free agents.  Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery has used the tag the last two seasons.

In 2012, Emery applied the franchise tag to running back Matt Forte.  The Bears and Forte agreed to an extension just before the deadline to reach a deal, so Forte did not actually play under the franchise tag, which would have paid him about $7.7 million for the 2012 season.

Last season, the Bears chose to tag defensive tackle Henry Melton, which paid him just north of $8.4 million for a season that was marred by a preseason concussion and cut short after Week 3 to a torn ACL.  Melton has since had an alcohol fueled run-in with the law at a hometown night club.

Jay Cutler was a prime candidate to get the franchise tag, but the Bears avoided that potential issue by signing Cutler to a hefty contract extension to kick off the offseason.  Now that that’s out of the way, don’t plan on having Phil reach into his desk drawer and grab a Franchise Tag this season.  If you look at the latest list of Chicago Bears free agents, you’ll understand why:

PLAYER POS AGE 2013 CAP HIT
Henry Melton DT 27 $8450000
Charles Tillman CB 32 $8000000
Devin Hester WR 31 $2940856
Roberto Garza C 34 $2125000
Major Wright S 25 $1492825
Corey Wootton DT 26 $1449793
D.J. Williams ILB, LB 31 $1328125
James Anderson OLB, LB 30 $1250000
Patrick Mannelly LS 38 $990000
Blake Costanzo OLB, LB 29 $940000
Craig Steltz S 27 $827500
Jonathan Scott LT, T 31 $672941
Nate Collins DT 26 $630000
Sherrick McManis CB 26 $630000
Zackary Bowman CB 29 $620000
Kelvin Hayden CB 30 $620000
Josh McCown QB 34 $580000
Eben Britton RT, T 26 $555000
Dante Rosario TE 29 $555000
Anthony Walters S 25 $555000
Landon Cohen DT 27 $518823
Taylor Boggs G 26 $405000
Jay Ratliff DT 32 $395294
Jordan Palmer QB 29 $326471
Derrick Martin CB 28 $228529

If you could franchise tag long snappers or return specialists, maybe Mannelly or Hester would make sense.  You can’t justify paying Charles Tillman the cornerback franchise tag in the neighborhood of $11 million.  The only Bears free agent who you might consider brining back at a premium might be Corey Wootton but there’s no way that he’s worth the franchise amount.

The Franchise Tag Window closes on March 3rd, just before the new league year starts and the Free Agency scramble opens on March 11th. We’ll take a look at each of the Bears’ pending free agents and their chances for bringing each back over the next couple of weeks.

Tags: Chicago Bears Franchise Tag