Holmes: Forte, Bears Far Apart On Contract Talks
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By Laurence Holmes-
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (WSCR) — “We want to have Matt play his entire career as a Bear. That was our intent when we started contract negotiations.”
That’s what Jerry Angelo told ChicagoBears.com Wednesday morning about where things stand with Matt Forte. Now it becomes an issue of what the Bears think Forte’s tenure is worth.
Sources have indicated to the Score that the Bears offer to Forte is less than the 3-year, $21 million extension that Frank Gore got from the 49ers. Gore received $13.5 million in guaranteed money. Considering Forte’s youth, production and relative health, it’s hard to fathom him settling for less.
Earlier this summer DeAngelo Williams received a 4-year deal worth $43 million with $21 million guaranteed from the Panthers. So it’s fair to guess that Forte would like to be somewhere in the middle of those numbers, preferably on the high side.
It becomes a matter of value. In the last three seasons, Forte has 4,731 total yards. That’s more than Gore (4,240) and Williams (3,427). Forte’s numbers put him at fifth in the NFL since 2008 behind Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew & Steven Jackson. Last season, Forte became the only player not named Walter Payton to have over 1,000 yards rushing (1,069) and over 500 receiving (547). That’s a total of 1,616 from scrimmage.
“Coming into the league, you feel like this is supposed to be production based and when you produce in the offense, you expect the team or the organization to actually notice that compared to other guys,” Forte said. “I guess we couldn’t meet in the middle.”
Forte also has value that is specific to the Bears. Last year he tied Johnny Knox for the team lead in receptions (51). Mike Martz has made mention that there is a greater level of trust in Forte’s ability now than when Martz first got to the Bears.
Forte thinks that this year he has a shot to do even more in Martz’s system.
“A lot of guys have the whole offense under their belt. We’re not limited in what we can call because of the learning curve,” he said.
The Bears are appreciative of what Forte has accomplished, but they have to factor in how he’ll produce in the future as well. Things can fade quickly for a running back in the NFL and the Bears need to protect themselves from Forte’s extension being cost-prohibitive.
Like with any negotiation, it’s about both sides being comfortable with the deal, but for Frote he wonders how the Bears are measuring his value.
“Maybe they have a different view of the type of player that I am than the type of player that they think I am,” Forte said.
According to Angelo, both sides have decided to table discussions for now, but Forte is flexible to a deal getting done at anytime.
“The door’s always open on my end,” Forte said.
It’s not inconceivable that the two sides wind up getting a deal done before the season. Forte admitted that while he will try to block the negotiations out of his mind, it’s still there. But don’t expect him to take it on the field with him.
“You can’t go out there worried about that,” Forte said.
For more Bears coverage, follow Laurence on Twitter (@LHolmes670).