Running Back Michael Bush Joins Bears

Or maybe in a more visible role should Forte hold out after he earlier was slapped with the franchise tag.

Bush played four seasons for the Oakland Raiders, gaining 2,642 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and scoring 21 touchdowns. The powerful 245-pound back had his most productive season in 2011, setting career highs in rushes (256), yards (977), touchdowns (7), receptions (37) and yards receiving (418). He mostly was a backup to Darren McFadden but had nine starts last season when McFadden was injured.

“I was told that the rotation will be very good,” Bush said in a conference call after signing a four-year deal the Chicago Tribune reported was worth $14 million, with $7 million guaranteed. “I think there are enough carries to go around.”

Forte, who sprained his knee in early December and missed the final month of the season but went to the Pro Bowl, has not been able to get a long-term deal from the Bears. He was given the franchise tag, meaning he will make $7.742 million next season if there is no new contract reached.

Forte went to Twitter to express his opinion of the signing of Bush, saying he had been “disrespected.”

“There’s only so many times a man that has done everything he’s been asked to do can be disrespected! Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last,” his post read.

Forte finished 2011 with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing in his fourth season. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He was the first Chicago running back to make it to the Pro Bowl since Neal Anderson following the 1991 season.

Bush said he can relate to how Forte feels.

“It’s just one of those things where you want to be rewarded for your success. I understand, but that has nothing to do with me,” he said. “My job is to come here and play ball. If he wants to hold out, I know what he’s going through. I’m just going to be there doing what I’m supposed to do.”

Bush said he also visited the Bengals and was planning to go to Seattle before agreeing with the Bears. Re-signing with the Raiders wasn’t much of an option because there not much communication.

“I haven’t heard too much from them …” he said, adding he understands the business side of football. “I’m not upset with them.”

Under new general manager Phil Emery, the Bears have been busy. They traded with the Dolphins for talented but troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall and they signed backup quarterback Jason Campbell along with special-teams contributors Blake Costanzo and Eric Weems.

They also re-signed defensive end Israel Idonije, defensive back Tim Jennings, tight end Kellen Davis, backup quarterback Josh McCown and safety Craig Steltz.

Matt Forte Gets Franchise Tag From Bears

Forte sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in a loss to Kansas City on Dec. 4 and sat out the rest of the season.

Without Forte and quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears struggled down the stretch and finished third in the NFC North and missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

Forte still got selected to his first Pro Bowl, finishing with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing in his fourth season. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Forte was the first Chicago running back to make it to the Pro Bowl since Neal Anderson following the 1991 season.

Forte came into last season looking for an extension, but did not reach an agreement with the Bears.

Forte was reportedly offered a deal that guaranteed about $13 million or $14 million, but might have been looking for something closer to the five-year, $43 million contract with $21 million guaranteed that Carolina gave DeAngelo Williams.

“Matt is an important part of our football team and we chose to utilize the franchise tag to ensure he remains a Bear,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said. “We believe in Matt as a player and a person. Our intention is to continue to work to find common ground and keep Matt as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2012 and beyond.”

Bears’ Forte Sees a Balanced Approach Against the Seahawks

Matt Forte does not see that happening again.

The Bears will meet Seattle in a divisional playoff at Soldier Field on Sunday after orchestrating a turnaround that led to the N.F.C. North championship and a first-round bye.

Forte was a big part of that.

He ran for 717 yards over the final nine games — averaging 4.9 yards per carry, eighth in the league in that span — and if the Bears are going to beat the , Forte said they would need to go with the same approach that led to their first playoff appearance in four years. That means more balance.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” Forte said. “We can’t go out and do what we did last time and throw the ball 40 or 50 times and run the ball 10 times. We have to have a balanced offense.”

It was hard to envision any of this after the first meeting between these teams in October. The Seahawks won, 23-20, at Soldier Field, sending Chicago to its second loss in a 1-3 stretch that nearly ruined its season.

Forte was fifth in the at 5.8 yards per carry over the final six games, and his career-high 4.5 average for the season was the best by a Bears running back with 200 attempts since Neal Anderson in 1989 (4.7).

The late surge gave Forte 1,069 yards rushing to go with 547 receiving, putting him alongside as the only Chicago players with at least 1,000 and 500 in the same season.

“In the last five games, I don’t know if there’s a back playing better,” the offensive coordinator said. “He has always been really good, been very impressive, but about five weeks ago something happened.”

HASSELBECK RETURNING? Seattle Coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks would like to bring quarterback Matt Hasselbeck back for the 2011 season.

Asked directly about Hasselbeck’s future with the franchise during his weekly news conference, Carroll said the team would like to do “everything we can” to have Hasselbeck return for an 11th season with the franchise.

“We don’t know the timelines or how that’s going to work out, and all that kind of stuff, but that’s a big issue for us that we’re looking forward to,” Carroll said. “He’s had a terrific run for us, and we want to see what we can do to keep that going.”

PENALTIES Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy would emphasize penalties in practice and talk about discipline, only to watch the yellow flags fly again the next Sunday.

More than three years’ worth of Packers penalty problems hit an all-time low in Week 3 this season, a miserable 18-penalty performance in a loss at Chicago.

Since then, one of the league’s most penalty-prone teams suddenly became one of its most disciplined. Green Bay ended the regular season with 78 accepted penalties, tying for third-best in the N.F.L.

“We’ve taken a different path this year,” McCarthy said. “They’ve had a lot of adversity, and they’ve done really a great job of buckling down on the discipline penalties.”

Now the bad news for the Packers: The team they are playing Saturday night has even better discipline.

The Atlanta Falcons committed only 58 penalties this season — tops in the N.F.L. by a significant margin; second-best Miami had 72.

FOX MEETS WITH ELWAY John Fox finally arrived in Denver to meet with the about their head coaching vacancy after his flight out of North Carolina was delayed three times this week by winter weather. Fox met with , who is leading the team’s second head coaching search in two seasons. Fox’s contract was not renewed by the after a 2-14 season. FAVRE’S SISTER ARRESTED The police say the 34-year-old sister of quarterback faces drug charges after she was arrested in a raid on a Mississippi condo where people were making crystal methamphetamine. Maj. Matt Karl of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that Brandi Favre was among five people arrested in Diamondhead.