bill-swift - March 24, 2012
Matt Forte, the 6-foot 2-inch 218 pound ball of really fast muscle that plays running back for Da Bears, is mad (thank God it isn't at me).
The man feels like he has been disrespected by the organization that he has helped pull out of the depths of mediocrity and make competitive once again. Two years before he joined the team they made it to the Super Bowl, but lost. After turning the ball over to Cedric Benson the following year the running game went kaput and so did the Bears.
Enter Matt Forte. Enter respectability.
On Thursday the Chicago Bears announced that they had signed former Oakland Raiders running back Michael Bush to a four-year deal for $14 million (with $7 million guaranteed). The team may call it insurance (albeit rather expensive insurance). Forte and his agent call it a slap in the face.
Forte has been after the Bears to sign him to a long-term deal since the lockout ended. The team balked at the idea last season. Ever the professional, Forte complained to anyone and everyone under the sun, but said that he was going to prove he was worth the money he was hoping/expecting to get paid by busting his butt on every play.
Bust it he did. Before getting hurt he ran the ball 203 times for 997 yards and three touchdowns to go with 52 receptions for 490 yards and another TD. With the exception of the lack of scoring (something the Bears were not the best at last year) the man was a one man machine.
At the tender age of 26 he has a lot of great football left in him assuming he comes back just fine from his MCL sprain (no reason to think he will not). Should he hit the market a number of teams would pay him an obscene bundle of money. Rather than agree to do that they stick him with the franchise tag so they can put the decision off for another season.
Or find a replacement. Enter Michael Bush.
Bush has been playing for an offensively challenged team for the last four years, but has not done bad with the time that he got on the field. Since getting drafted in 2007 (the same year as Forte) he has rushed for 4.2 yards a carry and 21 career touchdowns (just like Forte). While not as prolific in the passing game as Forte, he's chimed in roughly 23 receptions a year as well.
So in Bush the team gets a running back that is talented, but one that has yet to make a name for himself so he does not demand a high salary. Since he has about 400 fewer carries he's less likely to break.
Yeah, Matt, it sounds like you have one heck of a reason to be mad.
Article by Travis Pulver