The Bears put their franchise tag on running back Matt Forte. The Detroit Lions placed theirs on defensive end Cliff Avril. Both teams are not expected to have either player around for the start of their offseason programs.
The tags are intended to ensure teams the right to hold onto one designated player at the average of the top-five salaries of players at their positions. For Forte that is 7.7 million right now and he has not been expected to be at Halas Hall without a long-term deal since declaring hed be hard to find with that.
Avrils price is 10.4 million and he tells the Detroit Free Press that he will be in Detroit next week but not in the offseason workouts.
Players and teams have until July 16 to agree on a contract, after which the player has only the options of reporting and playing for the tag pay or holding out and missing games and paychecks.
This will not be the first time the Bears have gone into their offseason program without an unhappy No. 1 running back. Thomas Jones refused to come in for the 2006 offseason until he was assured a trade out of Chicago would be worked out after that year (it was). The Bears had Cedric Benson available and he was more than happy to take Jones offseason reps at the very least.
The Bears for their part signed Michael Bush away from Oakland as a combination backupalternative to Forte, who had his best NFL season last year despite no offseason program due to the lockout.