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Tuesday, March 27, 2012
BBAO: Matt Forte 'is going to be a Bear'

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We're Black and Blue All Over:

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- While I was scurrying this way and that Monday at the NFL owners meetings, Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips was addressing the future of tailback Matt Forte with Chicago-area reporters. As you know, Forte did not react well to the signing of backup Michael Bush and apparently there have been low-level trade rumors as a result because he has not yet signed his franchise tender.

Coach Lovie Smith threw water on the fire Sunday in a conversation with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, and via Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune, Phillips said: "Matt is going to be a Bear." Phillips added: "Our goal with Matt is to keep him a Bear as long as possible. We have made offers on long-term deals that we think reward him at a high level, the level he deserves. We haven't been able to reach common ground. The door is open to keep talking. If we get a deal done, we'll be happy. If we don't, then the deal we have is the franchise tag and we'll see what happens after this year."

The remaining piece of this puzzle is the value of the long-term deal Forte has turned down. As a result, we don't know if the dispute is based on a lowball offer from the Bears or an inflated value Forte has established for himself. But obviously the sides are nowhere close at the moment, and the question shifts to whether Forte will play under the terms of the $7.74 million franchise tag or if he will stay away from training camp when it opens in July.

Continuing around the NFC North: