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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Friday there is a sense of urgency to finalize a contract extension for running back Matt Forte before the beginning of the regular season.
"It's got to happen sooner (rather than later)," Angelo told "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I don't like to necessarily go into training camp and negotiate with players. We like to do that in the offseason.
"Unfortunately we didn't have the ability to do that, but again we want to do the right thing by Matt so we are talking. We're hopeful, but at some point we have to draw a line in the sand and just now focus on the season."
However, several hurdles must be overcome to complete a deal. While Forte, set to earn a $550,000 base salary in the final year of his rookie contract, no doubt is looking to get paid on a similar scale to the top rushers in the NFL, he won't reach unrestricted free agency until after the 2011 season. Angelo made it clear the Bears negotiate differently with players still under contract, as opposed to unrestricted free agents, whose market value is determined by the number of teams bidding for their services.
But both sides do seem to agree on the value Forte has in the Mike Martz offense. Forte had 1,616 yards from scrimmage in 2010, and joins Walter Payton as the only players in franchise history with multiple seasons of at least 1,600 yards from scrimmage. The former second-round pick reported to training camp on time and played a series in the club's preseason opener.
"Matt has the abilities to really flourish in this system," Angelo said. "He can do a lot of things. He is a three-down back.
"In this offense, I'm really anxious to see how he is going to continue to flourish because we're going to do more things with him because we can now that we know him better. I'm anxious to see Matt play this year. He's worked his tail off, he wants to be a great player. He's got all the tools to do everything that we want and to be a core guy for us."
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.