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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Matt Forte on Bears Using Franchise Tag: That’s a Cheap Way to Go Out

Running back Matt Forte is having the best season of his career. The fourth-year back has accrued nearly 1,100 yards through seven games this season. He’s on pace to nearly match Chris Johnson’s 2009 record season of 2,509 yards from scrimmage. Despite his success, he is in a difficult situation.

Forte is finishing his rookie contract (and only making $600,000 this year), and he and the team were unable to reach an agreement on an extension before the year. The Bears are likely to assign him the franchise tag after the season rather than give him a long-term deal. He wouldn’t be happy if that happened.

“It’s not something I’m looking forward to,” Forte said on Jim Rome Is Burning Friday. “I don’t want a one-year deal. I’m looking for a long-term extension. If they use the franchise tag, that’s kind of a cheap way to go out. That’s not what I’m looking forward to.

“I was drafted by Chicago. I want to stay there.”

Forte is going to be an unhappy person because getting slapped with the tag is a likely outcome. He reportedly turned down the Bears’ offer before the season, and is now balling out of control. His price is sky-rocketing, but Chicago is unlikely to pay him big money. Using the franchise tag gets Forte paid for one season and keeps him in Chicago. Players generally dislike it, but it’s a middle ground for teams that want to retain a player on a short-term basis.

As I’ve said before, I never thought Matt Forte was worth a big contract. This year he’s proving me wrong. But I would be reluctant to give him more than a one-year deal. However, he’s worth much more than $600,000 to the Bears, and they should compensate him accordingly this season.

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