Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 5/27/12

Matt Forte is one of the top running backs in the NFL, and he's been a workhorse for the Bears with over 1,000 touches in his first 4 years in the league. Despite this, the Bears have been reluctant to offer up a big-time contract to Forte. The lack of a respectable offer from the Bears may paint them as the villain in this case, but their concerns aren't unsound.

A source with knowledge of the situation told the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh that the Bears are concerned how long Forte's knees can hold up. The concern stems from Forte's heavy college and pro workload. He's touched the ball over 2,200 times over the course of his college and pro career, and as we know, running backs don't have a long shelf life.

This is turning into a simple case of caution vs. confidence. The Bears are protecting their own interests by not putting to many eggs in the Matt Forte basket, and Matt Forte is, of course, confident that he's nowhere near the end of his best years as a player. It's a simple conflict of interest, but it's the type of conflict that can send the two sides in the opposite direction.

In 2012, Forte will play under the franchise tag, and make no mistake about it, Forte will sign his franchise tender -- eventually. The real battle between the Bears will come next offseason if a long-term deal isn't worked out. At that point, Forte would hold the leverage, and there's a real possibility he could walk and try free agency instead of staying in Chicago.

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This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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