New contract for Forte will have to wait, Bears GM says

Contract talks between the Chicago Bears and running back Matt Forte are on hold.

Forte was looking for an extension as he headed into the fourth and final year on his rookie contract, but Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said talks most likely are off until after the season.

"We've spent a lot of time trying to work out an extension with Matt, and his agent did as much work as he could do," Angelo told WBBM-AM on Monday night. "Unfortunately, we haven't been able to come to an agreement at this point, so we've decided that we're just going to focus on the season. That's something we talked about when we went into the negotiations."

Fifth in the NFL with 4,731 yards from scrimmage since he entered the league in 2008, Forte had considered holding out at the start of training camp but decided against it. The Bears were willing to negotiate, but the talks are being tabled for now.

The Bears' season opens Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and that's where Angelo said the focus lies. He's not completely ruling out a new deal by the end of the year, though.

"Not saying the door is shut," Angelo said. "But right now, our focus is going to be on the season."

Angelo said the decision to break off the talks was mutual and added: "We visited a few times in our last meeting. We felt like with the season upon us, that right now we want to focus -- Matt wants to focus -- on the season and having a great year that we all expect and know that we will."

If the sides don't agree to a deal before the end of the season, Forte could test the market. The Bears also could slap him with the franchise-player tag.

Several other starting running backs have received new contracts since the NFL lockout ended in July, including the Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams (five years, $43 million; $21 million guaranteed), the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson (six years, $55.26 million; $30 million guaranteed) and the San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore (three years, $21 million).

Forte wasn't the only high-profile Bears player looking for a new deal.

Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs said he wants to be traded if the Bears won't rework his six-year, $36 million deal, but with three seasons left on it, Angelo said the team won't address the situation until the offseason.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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