(WSCR) According to a report, the Bears have made Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte a “strong offer” and the the team is hopeful he’ll accept it.

The Bears and Forte have been negotiating a new contract for the four-year running back for more than a year. Both sides have been unable to agree on a long-term contract, causing the Bears to place the franchise tag on Forte for the 2012 season.

Still, Bears CEO Ted Phillips told the Chicago Sun-Times they believe the offer on the table is fair.

“I think not only do we appreciate him and have told him so, but I think the offer we’ve made him shows that, too,” Phillips told the newspaper. “Now, different people can disagree on the ultimate value. But we feel we’ve made a strong offer to him, and are still hopeful he accepts it.”

Phillips also said the signing of running back Michael Bush last week has no bearing on whether or not Forte will be the starting back.

“Matt Forte is our No. 1 running back,” Phillips said. “He’s been told that, and he knows that. We all know that. He’s going to be a Bear for 2012, at least,” Phillips said. “He knows he has a long-term offer on the table, and we hope, at some point and time, he chooses to accept that.”

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