The Bears have agreed to a four-year deal with RB Matt Forté, hours before the league’s deadline to sign franchised players to long-term contracts.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times first reported the signing. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the deal will have an average of $8 million per year. PFW's Dan Parr confirmed that Forte will get just over $18 million in guarantees.
Forté has started every game he has played for the Bears in his four seasons. In 2011, he rushed for 997 yards and had 490 yards receiving in 12 games before missing the rest of the season with a sprained MCL.
Forté hoped for a new contract last summer, and there were talks of a potential holdout. Forté did not hold out and was one of the league’s top offensive players before getting hurt.
The Bears originally applied the franchise tag to Forté in March, which would have been worth $7.74 million for 2012, though Forté did not sign the tender. He told ESPN on Friday that he was “very optimistic” that a deal would get done.
Forté will join free-agent newcomer Michael Bush in the Bears’ backfield this season.