suntimes
DRAFTY 
Weather Updates

Bears slap franchise tag on Matt Forte — a $7 million raise

Matt Forte his agent still can pursue long-term deal with Bears until July 16 before franchise tag takes effect. |

Matt Forte and his agent still can pursue a long-term deal with the Bears until July 16 before the franchise tag takes effect. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

storyidforme: 26702091
tmspicid: 9681615
fileheaderid: 4448185
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: April 4, 2012 8:10AM



The Bears have assigned the franchise tag to Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte, the team announced Friday night.

The deadline to make the move was Monday afternoon.

‘‘It is not a surprise at all,’’ agent Adisa Bakari told the Sun-Times in a message. ‘‘Matt’s a phenomenal running back, whether as a ball carrier or receiver. There are few players who share his skill set.”

New Bears general manager Phil Emery also offered a glowing statement about Forte.

‘‘Matt is an important part of our football team, and we chose to utilize the franchise tag to ensure he remains a Bear,’’ Emery said. ‘‘We believe in Matt as a player and a person. Our intention is to continue to work to find common ground and keep Matt as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2012 and beyond.’’

The franchise tag for a running back is worth $7.7 million — more than a $7 million raise for Forte from 2011. Forte and Bakari have been pushing for a long-term deal which would give him security and more guaranteed money.

Forte was highly productive throughout his four-year, $3.7 million rookie contract after the Bears selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft. Forte turned 26 in December and turned in a Pro Bowl season despite missing the final four games. His current backup, Marion Barber, made $2.25 million in 2010, and his previous backup, Chester Taylor, walked away with $7 million because the Bears terminated his four-year deal after just one season in September.

Forte, who said before the Super Bowl that he wanted to remain a Bear, had been frustrated with former GM Jerry Angelo, who resisted negotiating with Bakari on a fair-market contract extension. Still, Forte showed up to training camp on time and asserted himself as one of the best running backs in 2011.

The Bears and Bakari still can work toward a long-term deal until July 16.

Emery’s previous team, the Kansas City Chiefs, signed one-time Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles to a five-year, $32.5 million contract that included $13 million in guarantees. And in Atlanta, where Emery worked before the Chiefs, the Falcons signed Michael Turner to a six-year, $34.5 million contract with $15 million guaranteed.

The market has since jumped. At the high end is the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, who signed a seven-year, $100 million deal with $36 million guaranteed. At the low end is the Carolina Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams, who signed a five-year, $43 million deal with $21 million in guarantees.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.