Bears Free Agency 2012: RB Matt Forte Among Most Urgent Franchise Tags Candidates

According to Vince Verhei of Football Outsiders and ESPN, the Chicago Bears have most on the most serious (Insider account required) needs for a franchise tag in their star running back Matt Forte. Forte and the Bears have long been at an impasse about creating a long-term extension, and most NFL analysts have begun to suspect the Bears would employ the franchise tag to ensure the Tulane product stays in Chicago.

Vince Verhei suggests the Bears have no choice. According to Verhei, Forte played behind one of the league's worst offensive lines, but still managed to be productive despite that. Moreover, the offense runs through Forte:

And on a per-game basis, Forte was responsible for a bigger chunk of the Bears' offense (37.0 percent) than [Ray Rice] was for the Ravens' offense (36.8 percent).

With the combination of Forte's productivity and the otherwise strength of the Bears team -- when QB Jay Cutler is healthy -- means the Bears have no choice but to extend Forte's stay at any expense if they hope to win a hotly contested NFC North Division.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Bears be sure to visit Windy City Gridiron. Visit SB Nation NFL for more news and notes around the league.

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