Lance Briggs respects Matt Forte

Updated: June 6, 2012, 4:20 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Teammates remain unwavering in their support of franchise-tagged running back Matt Forte and his battle with the Chicago Bears organization to secure a long-term contract.

Having endured a similar situation in 2007, when the Bears placed the franchise tag on him, linebacker Lance Briggs shed light on what Forte might be presently experiencing, advising the running back should "just do what you believe because no one knows you like you, and no one's gonna take care of you like you."

"It's just rough. I know he wants to be out here with his team," Briggs said. "But you also know what your value is in this league and you work hard. You want that to be recognized with a long-term deal.

"You know how this business is. It's rough. It can be brutal."

It's believed the organization recently reached out to Forte in an effort to re-ignite negotiations between the sides, but the caveat to the sides continuing talks is for the running back to sign the franchise tender. Forte's agent, Adisa Bakari, didn't respond to a message seeking comment.

The NFL deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign multiyear extensions is July 16. A player can be tagged three times.

Briggs discussed the long-term security Forte seeks in reminiscing about his own experience with the franchise tag and contentious negotiations.

"The toughest part was I wanted a long-term deal and the organization didn't at the time," Briggs said. "It was a little personal where I put some time in and I thought I had earned the right to stay here for a long time rather than give you my services for a year, and then potentially be shopped out again. So a lot of guys want that long-term security. They want to know the team wants (them) for a long period of time."

A four-year veteran, Forte earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2011, gaining 1,487 yards from scrimmage, which led the league before a sprained right medial collateral ligament sustained on Dec. 4 knocked him out of the final four games. But it's likely Forte would have returned had the team made a postseason run. Instead, the club dropped five of six down the stretch.

Given what's expected to be a run-first philosophy under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, Forte's value to the team is significant. The likelihood of Forte struggling to learn the new system isn't high, considering the Bears will use virtually the same concepts in the running game as they did in 2011 under Mike Martz.

After a few offseason practice sessions, cornerback Tim Jennings said players on offense were excited about the team's new system.

"I can't wait to get Matt back out here so we can put some things together to see how good we really can be," Jennings said.

Briggs, meanwhile, said he understood Forte's position.

"He hasn't let me down. He hasn't let any of the teammates down," Briggs said. "This is Matt's life. He's come out here and he's put his life, and his mind and body on the field for all of us. He's given a lot of thrills for the city of Chicago, and everyone has seen what he's capable of doing and what he means to our team."

Briggs also feels strongly about an extension for Brian Urlacher, who is entering the final year of his contract.

"We all -- not me, but this whole city and the organization and the players here -- we all better hope that that happens because he means a whole lot to our success," Briggs said. "He's pivotal to our success."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter