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Bears RB Forte open to franchise tag

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By PFW staff

Coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, Bears RB Matt Forté said Thursday that he would be open to the franchise tag as long as the Bears use it on him with the intent of eventually signing him to a long-term deal.

Forté's remarks came during an interview with Chicago radio station ESPN 1000 WMVP-AM.

"If they are doing the franchise tag just to get more time in order to negotiate a long-term deal, then I would be OK with it," he said. "But, if it's just to hold me another year and just, 'Let's throw some money at him right now to keep him quiet,' that's not going to solve anything."

Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said Tuesday on the radio station that the team had no intention of letting Forté hit the open market this offseason.

Forté, who missed the final four games of the 2011 season with an MCL sprain, led the team in rushing and receptions last season. He rushed for 997 yards (4.9 per carry) and made 52 catches for 490 yards in his 12 games.

New Bears GM Phil Emery was asked about his philosophy on the franchise tag during a press conference Monday.

"My philosophy on the franchise tag is it is a tool that's been collectively bargained that is fair to the player and fair to the club," Emery said. "That's part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It is a tool. It doesn't mean we're going to use it. It's just a tool that's out there."

The franchise tag for running backs is expected to be in the neighborhood of $7.7 million for 2012.

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