BREAKING: #Bears agree to terms with Pro Bowl RB Matt Forte on a long-term contract, according to source close to the situation.— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) July 16, 2012
Jensen later reported details of Forte's new contract:
Hours before an NFL deadline, the Bears and Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte are finalizing a four-year contract worth $32 million, according to a source close to the situation.
The two sides had until 3 p.m. CST to work out a long-term deal or else Forte would have had to play the 2012 season under a franchise tag worth $7.742 million. Instead, he'll get more than $18 million of the $32 million guaranteed, according to the source.
Forte rushed for 997 yards last season, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and scored three touchdowns on the ground. He added 52 receptions for 490 yards and one touchdown through the air.
Frankly, it was no surprise when Forte finally got injured late last season against the Kansas City Chiefs (spraining his MCL), given the workload he's been under since he was drafted in 2008. The 26-year-old rushed for at least 900 yards and recorded at least 400 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons.
In his first three seasons in the NFL, Forte started all 48 games in Chicago and accounted for 33 percent of the Bears' total offense, according to Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post, via Yahoo! Sports. Last season, Forte earned his first Pro Bowl selection. It was only a matter of time before he would want a contract extension for all he had done for the Bears.
Locking Forte up will ease the burden for the Bears, who went 8-8 and missed the playoffs last season in a disappointing campaign. After Forte went down against the Chiefs, the Bears finished 1-3, with their sole win coming in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings.
In 2010, Forte rushed for 1,069 yards and racked up 547 receiving yards. The Bears went 11-5 that season, making it to the NFC championship game. Forte had a combined 160 yards against the Green Bay Packers in the 21-14 loss.
The Bears did sign free agent Michael Bush this offseason, but he's better suited as a No. 2 running back, as he showed backing up Darren McFadden in Oakland with the Raiders last season. Last season, he rushed for 977 yards while McFadden missed time due to injury.
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