Matt Forte may not have the long-term contract he's been desperately seeking, but rest assured Bears' fans, Forte will be back with the team next season.
According to Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com, the Bears have slapped the franchise tag on Forte that will pay him 7.7 million next season, which is the average salary of the five highest paid players at the running back position.
Bears GM Phil Emery discussed the importance of ensuring that Forte remains a Bear.
"Matt is an important part of our football team and we chose to utilize the franchise tag to ensure he remains a Bear. We believe in Matt as a player and a person. Our intention is to continue to find common ground and keep Matt as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2012 and beyond."
The Bears and Forte still have until July 16 to work on a long-term contract. NFL teams have a Monday deadline to use their franchise tag if needed.
Forte came within three-yards shy of hitting the 1000-yard rushing mark for the third time in his young career. His 1,487 yards from scrimmage was tops in the NFL last season before he missed the final four games with a sprained MCL.
Chicago had only used the franchise tag - Lance Briggs in 2007 - once in the last decade.
How do you feel about the Bears giving Matt Forte the franchise tag? Are you still optimistic that they can work out a long-term deal? Let us know in the comment box below.