Sometimes it’s hard to understand why certain players on certain teams can’t get a deal done. Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears are another excellent example of that conundrum, as the 2011 Pro Bowler, franchises by the team, is still waiting to get the long term contract he desires.
For Forte, it isn’t just a question of money, but a matter of respect. What does respect mean? Probably money, and a lot of years, and getting talked to soon enough. He wants to be appreciated like one of the premier running backs in an NFL that is shifting more and more towards the pass. Seeing another one of his backups getting a deal while he’s waiting (Michael Bush signing for 4 years) is disrespect, in his book and in others.
It’s not that Forte is planning on holding out next year. He has no reason to. After making $3.5 million in the first four years of his career, in which he has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL – He’s 7th in rushing yards (4233, 70.5 per game), third in receiving yards (1985) and fifth in yards from scrimmage (6218) for a running back over that period. He has scored 29 touchdowns, and last season was going through his best season, running for 997 yards in 12 games before getting injured, ending the season and the Bears’ chances of making the postseason.
So what does Forte want? What does Forte deserve? He’ll be getting $7.7 million from the franchise tag next year, and if the Bears don’t sign him for another year he’ll be due $9.2 million in 2013. That’s pretty much that starting terms, or not far from them ($20 million in guaranteed salary) if the Bears were giving him a big contract.
So what is the big contract for a running back these days? The Adrian Peterson example, of $96 million over seven seasons he got from the Minnesota Vikings – $40 million through the first three seasons, $36 in guaranteed money. Adrian Peterson had the exact same 2011 as Forte did, although his body of work in previous seasons has been a tad more impressive.
There’s also Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks, arguably the best running back in the NFL last season. He ran for 1204 yards, scoring 12 touchdowns in his first full season in Seattle, getting a four year, $31 million contract, with $18 million in guaranteed money. Anywhere in between would be good for Forte, but he probably wants more than four years.
The Bears? They should sign him. They keep saying how important he is to them, but they seem to be busy making a lot of moves but showing Matt Forte with the respect he wants and deserves. By respect, he means a solid, multi-year, multi-million dollar offers. Money makes a man feel much more respected than simply hearing praises from his bosses.