The Chicago Bears announced on Friday that they applied the franchise designation to running back Matt Forte as the sides continue to work on a long-term contract.
Teams could apply the tag from Feb. 20 through Mar. 5 at 4 p.m. ET as a method of preventing players from exploring the open market. The designation means Forte will play the 2012 season for a base salary of $7.7 million. But it's believed the team applied the tag to buy it more time to come to an accord with Forte on a long-term agreement.
The sides can continue to negotiate until the July 16 deadline for teams to franchise players to multiyear extensions.