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Bears' Melton signs franchise tender

Lake Forest, IL (Sports Network) - Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton signed his tender offer as the team's designated franchise player on Tuesday, with the four-year pro slated to earn $8.45 million for the upcoming season.

The Bears slapped the franchise tag on Melton prior to the Mar. 2 deadline after he put together a strong 2012 campaign in which the Texas product racked up 43 tackles, a career-best six sacks and two forced fumbles.

Chicago can still attempt to negotiate a long-term contract with Melton, who has recorded 13 sacks over the past two seasons. The team has until July 15 to reach an agreement with the 26-year-old.

03/12 18:38:21 ET