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Report: Bears hesitant to give Matt Forte long-term deal because of balky knees

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer
Are Forte's knees enough to stop Chicago from giving him a long-term deal?

File this one under the category, “You reap what you sow when you give a player 1,237 touches in four years and then decline to give him the long-term extension that he wants.” That's where the Bears and running back Matt Forte (long a self-advocate for a new long-term deal) find themselves, as the organization is hesitant about giving him a new contract because of concerns about his knees, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Furthering that storyline was the Bears offseason signing of Michael Bush (where they gave him four years and $14 million) and the thought that new offensive coordinator Mike Tice's scheme doesn't need a marquee running back.

Combine that with the recent extensions granted to Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million), Houston's Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million) and Carolina's DeAngelo Williams (five years, $43 million), and Forte cannot be a happy man.

Unfortunately for Forte, it might be out of his hands.

As the Tribune writes, “… The Bears (are) reluctant to meet Forte's demands for the contract he seeks believed to be worth more in overall value and guarantees than McCoy's. Their concerns don't necessarily mean both sides cannot find middle ground before the July 16 deadline to agree to a contract. … But if the sides finally agree, expect any compromise to balance general manager Phil Emery's expressed caution over Forte's knees and the Bears' wish to pay for harmony by rewarding Forte.”

After the Bush signing, Forte obviously was displeased, as this tweet will attest.

But the Bears, even if they've used Forte as their work-horse, have a point. He missed the last month of last season with a knee injury, and he has other knee problems going back to his time in college.

The Bears put the franchise tag on Forte, worth $7.7 million for 2012, but he hasn't signed it yet. He still has hopes for his long-term deal. But with the possibility that the Bears are concerned about his knees, those chances might have just dropped.

Which Forte seemed to forecast last November.

"The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field," Forte said. "Everyone acknowledges that. So to continue to give me the touches I've had since my rookie year but not award me a long-term contract sends the message that you're OK grinding me into a pulp."

UPDATE (11:05 p.m. ET): This was Forte's response to the concern surrounding his knees. On Twitter, he wrote, "100Lbs sled up hill i think my knee will be ok" and posted the following video.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.
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