Matt Forte wants a new contract. The Chicago Bears would like to give him one. The problem? The two sides are far apart on a new deal that puts the two sides on a collision course that could derail the 2011 season. It’s time for these boys to work things out and get a deal done before the regular season is upon us.
Bears GM Jerry Angelo has been making the rounds with the local media and his latest stop on Friday was with ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy. JA talked about a number of things and the Forte contract talks were a big topic of discussion:
“It’s got to happen sooner. I don’t like to necessarily go into training camp and negotiate with players. We like to do that in the offseason. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the ability to do that, but again we want to do the right thing by Matt so we are talking. We’re hopeful, but at some point we have to draw a line in the sand and just now focus on the season.”
As ESPN North blogger Kevin Seifert points out, “line in the sand” is not a good thing in negotiations, especially at this stage of the game. Would Forte sit out the start of the season if a new deal isn’t worked out? I doubt it considering his broken promises of holding out from training camp and sitting out the first preseason game but do the Bears really want to find out? Does Forte want to push his luck? A standoff could be on the horizon.
In my opinion, Forte is getting bad advice from his agent and representatives. He is aiming for DeAngelo Williams money, but D-Will was an Unrestricted Free Agent. He took the risk to go out on the open market to get a deal. When teams give extensions, as Forte is seeking, the contracts aren’t worth as much; plain and simple. CSN Chicago’s Moon Mullin gives us some insight into what Fotrte is after:
The Kansas City Chiefs gave running back Jamaal Charles an extension last December, at the end of the third year of his rookie deal. That deal was worth $32.5 million over five years, with $13 million of it guaranteed. That’s for a Pro Bowl tailback, and indications are that Forte is after more than that.
Unfortunately, the Carolina Panthers lavished $43 million over five years on DeAngelo Williams, a free-agent-to-be and from a team that was desperate to keep him. Forte is not a free agent.
Moon goes on to point out that the Bears are really in the driver’s seat. If they really want to, they can shut down the negotiations and Forte can play out his deal. To further extend their leverage, the Bears can tag Forte at about $7.5 million next year. Sure, Forte would get a hefty raise ($4 million per over the next two compared to $500k that he’s set to make this year), but by the time he’s out of that, he’ll be 5 years in and who knows what he’s worth after that. Not to mention that each time he steps on the field, he risks injury and losing his payday.
I’ve said all along that Forte deserves a raise, but the Bears must have read my first post on this issue because they’re proceeding with caution. At least I wasn’t as harsh as Bob LeGere.
The way the offensive line has looked early in the preseason, it’s becoming clear that Matt Forte and the running game will have to play a big part in the offense if the Bears want any chance to win some games. Let’s hope Forte comes to his senses and signs an extension before it’s too late.