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RUNNING BACK MATT FORTE STAYS WITH THE BEARS
Thu, 19 Jul 2012 09:28 PM EDT

Pro Bowl RB Matt Forte and the Bears have concluded to a 4-year deal, settling the most important issue hanging over the team.

The team confirmed the deal before Monday’s cut deadline. Had the sides not reached an agreement, Forte would’ve had to play next season for $7.74 million after being hit with the franchise player tag. Or he may have held out.

The Chicago Bears did not release terms and agent Adisa Bakari did not return calls seeking comment, an unidentified source reported the agreement is worth $32 million with over $18 million guaranteed.

With Forte signed, the Chicago Bears will have all their key pieces in place when training camp starts the week after next.

”I’m proud to be a Chicago Bear and excited to be here for another 4 years,” Forte declared in a statement released by the Bears. I’ve been working hard this offseason and am looking forward to joining my colleagues at training camp next week. I am satisfied the business part is done and we can all turn our attention to football and our goal of winning a championship.”

Forte voiced optimism that an agreement would get done in an interview last week, and it occurred nicely in time. It stopped a time-consuming procedure that began last year when he sought a multiyear extension. Negotiations with then-GM Jerry Angelo went nowhere, but Forte decided not to hold out. Football spreads

He wound up having his top season.

Forte made the Pro Bowl for the 1st time, finishing with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing. He missed the last 4 games after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in a loss to KC on December 4.

By then, the Bears were in the middle of a free fall after losing QB Jay Cutler to a broken right thumb. They wound up finishing 8-8 after a 7-3 start and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in 5 years after reaching the NFC title game the year before.

The late plunge cost Angelo his job, setting in motion an active offseason. Phil Emery was employed as General Manager and quickly went to work reshaping the roster.

He bought Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall from Miami, giving Cutler a go-to target for the 1st time since he arrived from Denver. Even better, it’s someone he knows well. Cutler and Marshall put up significant numbers when they teamed with the Broncos, particularly in 2008.

Forte was leading the league in yards from scrimmage before he was hurt last season, and he ranks 6th in the league in that class since the Chicago Bears drafted him in 2008. He’s the only player in NFL history with at least 900 yards rushing and 400 receiving in each of his 1st 4 seasons.

”We’re extremely pleased that we managed to come to terms on a 4-year extension with Matt,” Emery said. ”We’re excited to get him on the field and continue working toward our goal of winning a championship.”


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