GM: Matt Forte deal could be challenging

Updated: July 31, 2011, 8:08 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Jerry Angelo's "intent" is to hammer out a contract extension for Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte.

That doesn't mean reaching the finish line will be easy.

Two days after Forte reported to Bears camp on-time because the general manager "told me a deal will get done ... he said I'm a priority of his," Angelo warned that the deal might not be simple to complete.

"It's a negotiation, you got to find that common ground," Angelo said on Sunday. "That part of it will be a challenge."

Since Angelo took over general manager duties in 2001, the Bears have rewarded numerous players with contract extensions, including Charles Tillman, Devin Hester, Brian Urlacher and Jay Cutler. Angelo envisions Forte joining that group, but failed to give a timetable.

"When we talked this summer, these past weeks, I told him now our intent is to do that (an extension)," Angelo said. "That's a strong word. When I say 'intent,' then we are motivated to do something. The timetable is yet to be determined. Just be patient, take care of your job as you already have and continue to do, and we're going to do our part."

Since entering the NFL in 2008 as a second-round pick out of Tulane, Forte ranks fifth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (4,731), behind Chris Johnson, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew and St. Louis' Steven Jackson.

Yet Forte is scheduled to earn $550,000 in base salary in the final year of his rookie contract.

Carolina Panthers rusher DeAngelo Williams -- a player many consider comparable to Forte -- just signed a five-year, $43 million contract, including $21 million guaranteed.

Therein lies the problem.

Williams was an unrestricted free agent, while Forte is under contract through 2011.

"You are not talking about a UFA (unrestricted free agent)," Angelo said. "There's an open market there, you bid. ... These extensions are much tougher because agents usually look at the UFA market to set their comps. But he's not a UFA, so that's the challenge.

"I feel optimistic, but again, we'll just let that play itself out."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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