Bears running back Matt Forte’s contract is up, and he’ll be eligible for free agency on March 13. NFL teams can begin assigning franchise tags on February 20.
On Tuesday, the Bears publicly confirmed that they’ll either be signing Forte to a long-term deal or tagging him between those two dates.
“We’d like to (strike a long-term agreement),” Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips told ESPN 1000 Chicago. “But as (new G.M.) Phil (Emery) pointed out, we obviously will at least consider placing the franchise tag on him. We don’t have any intention of letting Matt hit the open market.”
The 2012 franchise tag for running backs is expected to cost roughly $8 million. The Panthers paid DeAngelo Williams a five-year deal worth in excess of $8 million per season in July 2011, and Forte’s agents would surely settle for no less on their own long-term arrangement. Forte is a much better back than Williams.
Thanks to Carolina’s overspending, the franchise tag looks like a borderline bargain for the Bears.