Bears place franchise tag on Matt Forte

The Chicago Bears waited until Friday evening to announce the team has placed the franchise tag on running back Matt Forte.

That means Forte will earn approximately $7.7 million this season unless the Pro Bowl running back receives a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.

The Bears attempted to sign Forte to a long-term extension before last season began. When they couldn’t get a deal done, former general manager Jerry Angelo suspended talks because he didn’t want it to become an in-season distraction. The hope was, though, that the sides could close the gap and find a deal.

Now, it’s one of the top priorities for new general manager Phil Emery as team president Ted Phillips has publicly said the club would like to sign Forte to a long-term deal.

<p> “Matt is an important part of our football team and we chose to utilize the franchise tag to ensure he remains a Bear,” Emery said in a statement released by the club. “We believe in Matt as a player and a person. Our intention is to continue to work to find common ground and keep Matt as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2012 and beyond.”

This is just the second time in a decade the Bears have used the franchise tag. They placed it on linebacker Lance Briggs in 2007.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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