Hours before an NFL deadline, the Bears and Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte are finalizing a four-year contract, according to a source close to the situation.
The two sides had until 3 p.m. CST to work out a long-term deal or else Forte would have had to play the 2012 season under a franchise tag worth $7.742 million.
The deal is a relief to Forte, a second-round pick who had outperformed his four-year, $3.7 million rookie contract. Backups such as Chester Taylor and Marion Barber made more than him the last two seasons, although Forte hadn't missed a game until the final four of 2011 because of a sprained MCL.
Forte is rated eighth in standard leagues and fifth in PPR leagues in our rankings, and despite the sprained MCL last year should be healthy and ready to go in 2012. He may lose some work to backup Michael Bush, but he's now being paid like a RB1 and should be a good value as a late first round pick in your draft.