Contract talks between the Bears and running back Matt Forte will get underway at the combine this weekend.
Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports that the team and Forte’s representatives will discuss a long-term contract in advance of Forte becoming a free agent. Forte’s made no secret of his desire for such a deal over the last year, but nothing happened while Jerry Angelo was the team’s General Manager. These will be the first meetings on the topic since Phil Emery replaced Angelo earlier this month.
Coach Lovie Smith said Thursday that he expects the two sides to come to a deal.
“Knowing that Matt is going to play his football for the Chicago Bears — so you start with that,” Smith said, via Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times. “In time, hopefully we can get an agreement that suits Matt and [the Bears]. And I think it’s a matter of time, and that’ll happen eventually.”
If the two sides can’t come to a deal before March 5th, it seems unlikely that Forte will actually hit the open market. Franchising Forte would cost the team $7.7 million, a number that works given their expected cap space while leaving them money to address needs at wide receiver and the offensive line as well.