<
>

BBAO: Matt Forte and Bears' 'motive'

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Matt Forte's appearance Wednesday on ESPN 1000 seemed mostly optimistic to me. The Chicago Bears tailback seems to understand the likelihood he will receive a franchise tag this offseason and realizes it could prove a tool to ultimately get a long-term contract negotiated.

But if the Bears franchise him not for the purpose of negotiations, but instead as their final decision on how to compensate him in 2012, there could be trouble.

Forte: "A lot of teams franchise guys so that they can get a deal done or negotiate a deal. It just depends on what the motive of that is."

The franchise tag for running backs this offseason is expected to be a little less than $8 million. If it seems clear the Bears plan to pay him that salary, with no credible offer for an extension beyond the 2012 season, Forte implied he might not be in training camp on time.

"I wouldn't say holdout," he said, "but people probably wouldn't know where I was."

You say tomato, I say tomahto.

This is a discussion that can't begin in earnest until the Bears hire a new general manager.

Continuing around the NFC North: