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Matt Forte Contract Update: Without Extension, Bears Will Use Franchise Tag

The Chicago Bears plan to place the franchise tag on star running back Matt Forte if the two sides can't come to an agreement on a contract extension before the offseason, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. That means that Forte's 2012 salary would be the average of the five highest-paid running backs in the NFL for this season, a figure of roughly $7.71 million according to the report.

Forte, 25, has been one of the best players in the NFL this season, as he currently leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1091 through his first seven games. He's the first player to get to 1000 yards from scrimmage through seven or less games since Priest Holmes and Tiki Barber did it in 2004, and easily the most dynamic offensive player that Chicago has had in years.

The running back has been outspoken in his desire for a long-term deal, saying that he has no interest in taking a one-year deal. Of the franchise tag, Forte even said, "that's kind of a cheap way to go out."

The Bears reportedly haven't offered more than $14 million in guarantees to Forte, even though elite NFL running backs have typically gotten more in the past. Earlier this year, Tennessee's Chris Johnson got $30 million in guarantees on a four-year deal, while Minnesota's Adrian Peterson got $36 million guaranteed from the Vikings.

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