Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 3/3/12
It didn't really come as much surprise when the Chicago Bears used the franchise tag on star running back Matt Forte. President Ted Phillips had stated clearly that he had no intention of letting Forte hit the open market as a free agent. New General Manager Phil Emery also said, "Matt is an important part of our football team and we chose to utilize the franchise tag to ensure he remains a Bear."

But what does this mean for Forte and his future with the Chicago Bears?

Well, for a start, Forte will be paid a base salary of $7.7 million for the 2012 season. But Many people around the league are seeing this as a chance to keep Forte with the Bears while they work to put together a long-term contract that can satisfy both the Bears and Forte.

There is no doubt Chicago has done the right thing here. Forte has solidified his position as one of the elite running backs in the NFL. He was having an excellent season last year until injury caused him to miss the last four games. 

Bears' Head Coach Lovie Smith and new Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice are both united in their position as being a rushing team before anything else. And they know that Forte can be the man to push this attack forward. 

The value of the franchise tag has fallen in the last year. The Bears have until July 16 to come to an agreement on a multi-year extension. If this doesn't happen, Forte would look to receive $481,250 per week over 16 weeks. 

Despite being injured for last part of the season, Forte was still selected to his first Pro Bowl, and finished the year with 997 yards rushing and 52 receptions for 490 yards. 

The Bears simply cannot afford to be without Forte. For the first part of last year's campaign he was pretty much carrying the Bears' offense. He is a versatile back who brings a passion to the field and has demonstrated that he deserves to be rewarded with a long-term contract that accurately reflects the level he plays at.


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