Bears, Matt Forte agree to contract extension

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Under the gun of today’s deadline for franchise players to agree to multi-year contracts with their teams, the Chicago Bears agreed to terms with running back Matt Forte. Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times, who broke word of the deal, indicates it’s a four-year deal. Financial terms have not yet been confirmed, but Adam Schefter notes the deal averages about $8 million a year.

Forte, who was scheduled to make $7.7 million in 2012 had he played under the franchise tag, is the fourth high-profile running back to sign a new deal this offseason, after LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, and Marshawn Lynch. His deal is probably most similar to Lynch, who received a four-year, $31 million contract with $17 million guaranteed.

While Forte is coming off an MCL injury that prematurely ended his 2011 season, we analyzed earlier in the offseason whether the Bears should pay Forte, and found players with his profile generally returned to their prior level of success. The Bears added Michael Bush as a backup plan in case they failed to come to terms with Forte or his injury proves more troublesome than expected, but expect Forte to get the lion’s share of the work and be just as productive as he’s been in the past.

With Forte signed, that leaves Ray Rice as the lone high-profile running back still slated to play under the franchise tag this year. As yet, there haven’t been any signs he and the Ravens are close to a deal, but a few hours still remain before the deadline.