By Jay Skurski
Exhibit A as to why NFL players hate the franchise tag can be seen in Chicago, where Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on Sunday night against Pittsburgh, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.
Melton, 26, was playing this season on a one-year contract as the Bears' franchise player, a designation that pays him a guaranteed $8.45 million as a defensive tackle. Melton's in his fifth year in the NFL, and coming off his first Pro Bowl season. He's entering the prime of his career, but his earning power for what should be the biggest contract of his life is now significantly in question because of a serious injury.
Melton just happens to be the same age and have the same amount of professional experience as Byrd, who has two Pro Bowl appearances, including last season. Byrd, who is signed to a one-year contract as the Bills' franchise player, is making $6.916 million.
He has yet to play in a game this season because of plantar fasciitis in both feet, but was upgraded last week from doubtful to questionable before the game against the New York Jets, an indication he could be getting close to a return. Coach Doug Marrone has said Byrd continues to work hard on getting back in the lineup.
When he does return, he'll face the same injury risk as Melton -- the greatest fear for every player (and agent) working under the franchise tag.
taggedDoug Marrone | Jairus Byrd