BBAO: One week for Bears, Henry Melton

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The July 4 holiday usually means the unofficial end of summer for NFL teams, as vacations wrap up and preparations for training camp begin in earnest. It also signals the final days for teams to sign their franchise players to long-term contracts before the next offseason.

That issue has relevance for the Chicago Bears, who as of now are set to pay defensive tackle Henry Melton the one-year franchise tender of $8.45 million. The deadline for the sides to agree on a longer, more salary cap-friendly deal, is a week from today on July 15. According to ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, it's "debatable" whether something will get done between the sides.

At last check, the Bears had about $1.6 million in remaining camp space with Melton under the franchise tag. That's not much, but their draft class is signed and there isn't much left on their offseason financial agenda. Melton's number is manageable. The Bears must make a decision based more on their plans for him in coming years rather than simply the salary cap.

Continuing around the NFC North: