Henry Melton wants to stay in Chicago, and the Bears want the Pro Bowl defensive tackle to anchor the defensive line for years to come.

But will the sides come to a long-term deal before the start of the next season? Friday was the first step in the process.

The Bears placed an NFL franchise tag on Melton -- as expected -- at a price of $8.45 million for one year. The move buys some time as the Bears and Melton's agent, Jordan Woy, now have until July 15 to reach terms on a long-term deal.

Although both parties are far apart in their negotiations, Melton does not feel slighted, at least not publicly.

"I've just come a long way, and it feels good to be this high on people's list of players in the NFL,'' the four-year veteran said Friday.

General manager Phil Emery expressed his high regard for Melton.

"Henry has been a good player for us and we are using the franchise tag so his development continues as a Bear," Emery said on the team-controlled website. "We will continue our conversations with Henry and work toward a multi-year agreement.''