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|
|D.J. Williams||ILB, LB||31||$1328125|
|James Anderson||OLB, LB||30||$1250000|
|Blake Costanzo||OLB, LB||29||$940000|
|Jonathan Scott||LT, T||31||$672941|
|Eben Britton||RT, T||26||$555000|
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.