Every contract negotiation has a winner and a loser. The key to a good contract and a good negotiation lets both sides claim victory. The Matt Forte deal appears to have winners on both sides of the deal but I’m declaring the Bears the winners in this deal. “What,” you ask? “How can you be calling the Bears winners in this negotiation when they had the franchise tag in their back pocket and had control over Forte for the next 2 season?” Follow me to the other side of the jump to see how I break down this deal.
First, let’s talk about this deal from Forte’s point of view. With a 4-year contract, he gets the long-term deal that he’s been seeking and gets the “respect” that he’s deserving. He gets to end the “pay the man” discussion that’s swirled around him for the last 2 years. If we’re sick of the #payforte movement, I think he had to be too.
The deal being only four years also gives Forte another shot at a payday. When the deal end, Forte will be 30 and if he can stay healthy and continue to play at the high level that he expects, he’ll get another shot at a big payday. Maybe with the Bears; maybe elsewhere? It’s been reported that being a 4-year deal was a key negotiating point in the late stages of the discussions with the Bears.
Maybe the knee injury he suffered last season made him realize that he should take the guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal? If he gets dinged this season, he still gets paid.
Now, let’s look at the Bears point of view. If the Bears had exercised their Franchise Tag rights for the next two seasons, they would have paid Forte about $7.7 in 2012 and about another $9.3 million in 2013 with a second tag at 120% of the first tag. That comes to about $17 million in guaranteed money. That’s pretty close to the reported $18 million that this deal is worth. If Forte can continue to perform at a Pro Bowl level, that’s a good investment to keep him under your control thru 2015.
If Forte’s performance falls off, as with all NFL contracts, the Bears can cut Forte and won’t have to pay up on the back end of this deal, so as long as they can get the Matt Forte of the past few years for the next two seasons, this makes a lot of sense for the Bears.
When you consider the deals that were negotiated this offseason for Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy and even Marshawn Lynch, Forte’s $18 million is far off where he wanted to be. Heck, even Ray Rice’s deal that was hammered out at the 11th hour was valued at $40 million with $20 in guarantees.
The deal also gets Forte into camp on time and let’s the team spend their time in Bourbonnais worrying about installing the new offense and keeping Jay Cutler upright and not dancing around a holdout and big distraction.
What do you think? Who won the deal, the Bears or Forte? Vote in our poll and post your Comments.