The anticipated franchise designation was assigned to running back Matt Forte on Friday. It isnt projected to make Forte particularly happy, even with its 7.7 million guaranteed money when he signs the contract. But it does project to keep him a Chicago Bear, and that was really the point.
It also is not likely to be the end of contract transactions for Forte.
The expectation is that he and agent Adisa Bakari, who has met with GM Phil Emery since Emery succeeded Jerry Angelo, will agree to a longer-term contract. That will allow the Bears to give Forte more guaranteed money and to average out the money over more years rather than full deal hitting in this contract year, which it does with the franchise tag.
Forte has hinted that he would be a little hard to find around Halas Hall if he received the tag. And the two sides have until July 15 to work out a longer deal.
The Bears gave an offer to Forte at the outset of last training camp and did not move enough to suit Fortes side, leaving him to play out the 2011 season under his rookie deal for less than 600,000.
Forte didnt hold out over that situation. The tag isnt what he wants, but New England guard Logan Mankins, who was tagged by the Patriots before he eventually worked out a long-term deal, told CSNChicago.com during Super Bowl week that holding out over the tag is simply too much money to leave on the table.
The 2012 tag is not the only leverage the Bears have in the Forte situation.
The collective bargaining agreement allows teams to apply the tag for a second year, albeit for more money but still not for the amount Forte would expect to net under a multi-year deal.
Forte, who missed four games this season with a knee injury, is at some risk even with the 2012 tag. It is a one-year pact and the team is under no obligation to use the tag a second time or work on a new contract if Forte is injured again.