The Bears and Adisa Bakari, the agent for running back Matt Forte, will open contract talks in Indianapolis this week, Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports.
Signing Forte to an extension has been a priority for the Bears, who had offered the 2008 second-round pick out of Tulane a contract extension with between $13 and $14 million in guaranteed money. Forte earned a $600,000 base salary last season and is reportedly seeking a contract in the $8 million per year range with over $20 million in guaranteed money.
The Bears fired general manager Jerry Angelo after the season and replaced him with Phil Emery. The Bears and Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell mutually agreed to part ways after Emery’s hiring.
Forte suffered a knee injury that ended his 2011 regular season in December, the first games he’s missed during his career. In 60 career games, Forte has ran for 4,233 yards and 21 touchdowns with 223 receptions for 1,985 yards and eight touchdowns. Forte was medically cleared to participate in the Pro Bowl, carrying the ball twice for six yards and catching one pass for four yards.
If a long-term deal cannot reached, the Bears could use the franchise tag on Forte, which is projected to be worth around $7.8 million in guaranteed base salary. The window to use the tag opened up on February 20 and will close on March 5.
Free agency begins at 4pm ET on March 13th.