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Most Important Bears: No. 6 Matt Forte

(CBS) As we count down to Bourbonnais, a panel of 15 670 The Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 most important Bears players for the 2012 season. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will release the 10 Most Important Bears over the next 10 weekdays.

Next up:

No. 6 Matt Forte (62 points)

The newly paid Bear was maybe the most polarizing player in the voting done by our panel. Some of the voters had Forte as high as No. 2 or No. 3, while four voters didn't even have him in the top 10.

As the league continues to shift to a heavy-passing league, running backs are becoming more and more irrelevant. That was something that was argued a lot in Forte's contract negotiations. But it would be naive to think Forte is going to be irrelevant in the Bears' offense. They wouldn't have given him $17 million if that were the case.

It is fair to think that Forte will be slightly less involved in the offense, however. Part of the reason why he has been involved over 40 percent of the time is because of the lack of weapons, especially in the passing game. If Forte is leading the Bears in catches this season, then they have a big problem with newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Forte is certainly one of the 10 most important players on the Bears, but his importance was also diminished with the signing of Michael Bush. A big year from No. 22 could make the Bears offense one of the best in the league, but if he were to go down, Jay Cutler and Co. should still be effective.

No. 6 seems about right.

The Rest Of The List:
No. 7 Lance Briggs
No. 8 Gabe Carimi
No. 9 Henry Melton
No. 10 Shea McClellin

The 10 Most Important Bears were decided by 15 Score contributors who ranked their most important players from  1-10. The rankings were then compiled into a master list by assigning point values to the votes (a No. 1 vote is worth 10 points and a No. 10 vote is worth 1 point).

The panel: Mike Mulligan, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Jason Goff, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Jay Zawaski, Nick Shepkowski, David Schuster, Herb Lawrence, Craig Miller, Dennis Gambino and Brendan McCaffrey.

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