Players don’t like to get franchised, but if it eventually leads to a better deals, everything is forgotten. Just like Drew Brees got his deal from the New Orleans Saints, running backs Matt Forte from the Chicago Bears and Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens got the deals they wanted.
Out of the 21 NFL players to receive the franchise tag this off-season, now 12 have signed long-term contracts, six signed one-year tenders offered to them while three more remained unsigned.
Forte missed the club’s offseason conditioning program, organized team activities and mandatory minicamps, as the Bears are installing a new system under Mike Tice, the new OC. Forte was offered a $7.75 million tender for the season, but was really considering sitting out until a contract was agreed upon.
Forte was enjoying the best season of his career with the Chicago Bears in 2011 before an injury sidelined him for the last four games of the season. He ran for 997 yards, scoring a total of four touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The Bears were on their way to the playoffs before Forte and Cutler both went down.
So Forte, who was really unhappy with the situation, thinking about sitting out the season if he had to, got a four year contract, keeping him in Chicago with Bears until his 30th birthday. The deal is worth $32 million, with $17 million in guaranteed money. Since 2008, Forte ranks sixth in the NFL with 6,218 yards from scrimmage and is the only player in NFL history to gain 900 yards rushing and 400 receiving in each of his first four seasons.
Another multi-talented running back who got the franchise tag is Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, who came into the league in 2008, just like Forte. A two time Pro Bowl selection (2009, 2011), Rice was supposed to make $7.7 million under the franchise tag tender. Unlike Forte, Rice was as adamant about getting a deal done quickly, realizing the offer will come later rather than sooner, but will come.
Rice got a five year deal for $40 million, giving him $17 million for the 2012 season and $8 million for 2013. He scored a Baltimore Ravens record with 15 touchdowns, while running a career best 1364 yards and was also Joe Flacco’s favorite target, catching 76 passes for 704 yards.