Lovie Smith confident long-term deal will come for Matt Forte

It’s difficult to say at this point if the Chicago Bears will be able to hammer out a new contract for running back Matt Forte before the deadline to apply the franchise tag March 5.

But it you listen to coach Lovie Smith, he’s confident a contract is in the near future of the Pro Bowl performer.

The Bears will, without question, tender the franchise tag to Forte if a deal cannot be struck by the deadline. He will not enter the open market. But even if Forte is tagged, the sides will be able to work toward a long-term agreement.

The franchise tag is an affordable $7.7 million this year but the Bears are motivated to keep Forte into the future.

“The team hasn’t changed its approach to Matt Forte at all,” said Smith, making it clear the arrival of new general manager Phil Emery has not changed business. “I think we’re on record of how important Matt is to our organization, just him in the community for what he and Danielle do—I’m talking about his wife—just what they mean to us and just him as a football player.

“Matt’s going to play his football for the Chicago Bears. So you start with that. In time hopefully he can get an agreement in place that suits Matt and we feel comfortable with. I think it’s just a matter of time. That will happen eventually.”

Stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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