Bears’ multiple negotiations complicate Forte deal

Matt Forte leads the Bears in rushing. He has twice as many receptions as anyone else on Chicago’s roster. No other running back in the NFL has more total yards.

Yet despite all his gaudy stats and importance to the Bears’ attack, Forte remains unsigned past the end of the season.

Forte and the Bears were not able to agree on a contract extension during the offseason, and the growing schism between the RB and the front office has been one of the top storylines this season in Chicago. Forte, currently making $600,000 in the final year of his rookie contract, would be one of the NFL’s most sought-after free agents if the Bears let him hit the market.

NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi explained Sunday on “NFL GameDay Morning” some of the potential hurdles the Bears brass might have to leap in order to look up their young star.

“I think what happens often times is you have two negotiations from the front office standpoint,” Lombardi said. “You must negotiate with your owner — and then you must secure money from him — and you must negotiate with the player.

“I think the problem here was Chicago did not anticipate what it was going to cost to pay Matt Forte. So when they negotiated with the owner, they got a little less money. It’s tough to go back to the owner and ask for more. Clearly, Matt Forte — like Marshall Faulk — is a multi-dimensional running back. He leads the team in receptions, leads the team in rushing, he protects the football.

“He’s multi-dimensional, and when you have that type of player … you have to sign him. So they might have to humbly go ask the owner for a little bit more cash.”

The Chicago Tribune reported earlier this week that it’s looking more likely that the Bears will use the franchise tag on Forte, which would pay him a 2012 salary of no less than the average of the league’s top 5 backs.

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