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Matt Forte Won't Hit Free Agency; Bears Plan To Keep Him

The Chicago Bears are dealing with a number of concerns this offseason, not least of which is the impending free agent status of running back Matt Forte. According to the Bears, they don't plan on letting Forte go anywhere.

The Chicago Bears are hoping that 2012 will be better to them than 2011 was. After a lackluster season plagued by injuries and tough losses, the Bears have a new general manager and a full slate of issues to address in the offseason. One of those issues is the status of their premier running back, Matt Forte.

According to ESPN Chicago, Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips is eager to work out a long-term deal with the running back. The team has until February 20 to decide whether to place the franchise tag on Forte.

"We'd like to (work out a long-term deal with Forte)," Phillips said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But as Phil pointed out we obviously will at least consider placing the franchise tag on him. We don't have any intention of letting Matt hit the open market. We'll sit down with him privately, Phil will, and discuss what the plans are prior to the Feb. 20 franchise tag date."

Forte has put together four solid seasons with the Bears since joining them as a second-round draft pick in 2008. The Pro Bowler is only the second player in NFL history to put together 700 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons, along with Herschel Walker. That type of talent and versatility makes it easy to see why the Bears are reluctant to part ways with him.

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