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Bears Grant Matt Forte 4-Year Extension

Matt Forte has been a rock-solid running back for the Chicago Bears for years, and the team has just not gotten around to showing its appreciation of the Pro Bowl running back.

The sound and reliable Forte agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth roughly $32 million,

The Bears had placed their franchise tag on Forte in March and the sides had until 4 p.m. today to reach an agreement. Without a long-term deal, Forte would have had to play the 2012 season under the $7.749 million tender or sit out the season.

The deal is a sign of respect for Forte. He has been under-appreciated most of his career and when he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in a Dec. 4 loss to Kansas City — shelving him for the season — it would not have been a surprise if the Bears held back on a new deal.

Forte went into last season looking for an extension, but was disappointed when the sides could not did not reach an agreement with the Bears. There was a point where he believed he would be playing his last year in a Bears’ uniform because they could not come to terms.

But look at him now. Forte got rewarded with a multi-year deal even though the team had not seen how he fared after the injury.

Without Forte and quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears struggled down the stretch and finished third in the NFC North, missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

Still, Forte was so strong before his injury that he still got his first Pro Bowl selection. He finishing with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing in his fourth season. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Forte was the first Chicago running back to make it to the Pro Bowl since Neal Anderson following the 1991 season.

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