- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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DENVER -- Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo stressed on Sunday that Matt Forte's sprained MCL won't affect contract negotiations between the sides as they look to consummate a long-term extension for the running back.
Angelo said such a possibility had already been explored between the sides.
"His agent [Adisa Bakari] asked us that," Angelo said. "He posed that question to us months ago, and we told him, 'No.' [An injury] would not change our thinking in negotiations."
Forte suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his right knee in the first quarter of a Dec. 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the early prognosis was a two- to six-week time frame for recovery.
Forte said last week he took a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right knee to speed up the healing process. Angelo said the running back's rehabilitation is "going well."
"We'll know a little bit more [about when Forte will return] next week," Angelo said.
A fourth-year veteran, Forte has 985 yards rushing and 490 yards receiving this season. Forte was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage, and left last Sunday's game after gaining 12 yards on five attempts.
Prior to the injury, Forte was attempting to negotiate a long-term extension with the team. According to sources, Forte had turned down a deal worth between $13 million to $14 million.
Angelo wouldn't disclose whether the team would exercise the franchise tag option on Forte to keep the running back from becoming an unrestricted free agent if the sides couldn't come to an agreement before the deadline in February.
"Well, we have the ability to do that," Angelo said of the franchise tag. "I'm not gonna get into talking about what we're going to do. We'll address all this at the appropriate time, and the appropriate time is really the end of the season. It's not a story now. Our story is us getting in the playoffs right now. That's what we're focused on. I know Matt is focused on the same thing."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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