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Matt Forte, Chicago Bears strike four-year deal

Matt Forte earned this one.

The Chicago Bears running back has agreed to terms on a four-year contract, a source with knowledge of the situation told and NFL Network reporter Albert Breer on Monday.

The Bears later confirmed that Forte had signed his extension in a news release.

According to multiple reports, Forte's deal includes an $18 million guarantee and will average around $8 million per year.

Forte's multiyear pact is the result of a tug of war that started more than a season ago.

"I'm proud to be a Chicago Bear and excited to be here for another four years," Forte said in a statement released by the team. "I'd like to thank my family, my agent and the Chicago Bears. I've been working hard this offseason and am looking forward to joining my teammates at training camp next week. I'm glad the business part is done and we can all turn our attention to football and our goal of winning a championship."

Forte refused to sign his one-year, $7.749 million franchise tender to push for a long-term commitment from the Bears' front office. The team showed little urgency, which adds an element of surprise to the deal.

Nobody expects Forte to come close to the seven-year, $96 million contract the Minnesota Vikings handed Adrian Peterson last season. The market for second-contract running backs has grown brutal as teams move to committee backfields and emphasize the pass.

Still, Forte is one of the NFL's most productive players over the past four seasons. His 4,233 rushing yards, 1,985 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns make him the Chicago Bears' most reliable weapon, but numbers don't tell the entire story.

Other players could have turned this into a maudlin drama. Instead, Forte promised he would play this season with or without a new deal, and that commitment might have impacted the Bears' thinking. They added Michael Bush to the backfield this offseason -- creating even more leverage for the team -- but Michael Bush is no Matt Forte.

This might be one of the last Forte contract-saga posts you'll ever have to read. We can all be thankful for that. Especially Forté, who remains a Chicago Bear.

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