Matt Forte said he would be fine with the Chicago Bears using the franchise tag on him as long as it leads to a long-term deal and is not simply a tactic to keep him off the free-agent market for another season.
"It depends on the motive of (the franchise tag)," Forte said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "If they are doing the franchise tag just to get more time in order to negotiate a long-term deal then I would be OK with it. But if it's just to hold me another year and just 'Let's throw some money at him right now to keep him quiet,' that's not going to solve anything."
Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips told "Waddle & Silvy" on Tuesday that the team has no intention of letting Forte become a free agent.
Forte, who made his first Pro Bowl in the final year of his rookie contract, hopes that means an amenable resolution to a contract issue that has gone on since the lockout ended in July.
"If he's saying that then hopefully we do have a chance to sit down and hopefully they offer me a fair deal, unlike last year," Forte said. "Like I've been saying over and over again, every players wants to be compensated based off of their value. When you're under-valued as a player of course you're never going to accept that deal."
Forte turned down a contract offer from the Bears before the season with $13 million to $14 million in guaranteed money, ESPNChicago.com reported. Now with Phil Emery taking over for Jerry Angelo as Bears general manager, Forte is hopeful an agreement can be reached. He said his agent has already spoken with Emery and expects to have more conversations in the next few days.
"I would expect (a new GM) to affect (the talks) positively," Forte said. "As we all know when Jerry was here we didn't get a deal done. He's not here anymore, but I would expect it to go positively because we have more time to negotiate a new deal. Hopefully if we don't reach a deal by the time the franchise tag has to be placed, if they do franchise me it's in order to get a deal done."
Forte missed the final four games of the regular season after suffering a sprained right medial collateral ligament during the Bears' home loss to Kansas City on Dec. 4. He finished the season with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and returned to play in Sunday's Pro Bowl.
A second-round draft pick out of Tulane in 2008, Forte was on his way to his third 1,000-yard rushing season and has proven durable, playing in all of his first 60 career games before injuring his knee.
The Bears can make an official decision on whether to franchise Forte as soon as Feb. 20. A resolution couldn't come soon enough for Forte, who said he knows people are sick of this issue.
"I'm tired of talking about it, and I bet everybody is tired of hearing about it," Forte said. "The production level is there. Everything seems like it's pretty simple to get done so let's do it."