Chicago Sun-Times

Bears best offer to Matt Forte was about $6 million a year

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Just before the regular season, the Bears best offer to running back Matt Forte was believed to be worth about $6 million per year, with $13 to $14 million guaranteed.

On Monday, before kickoff of the Lions-Bears, general manager Jerry Angelo made clear that Forte was the team's top priority.

"We anticipated Matt having a great season like he's having. It isn't new. That's why we did what we did," Angelo said. "I don't want that message to get lost, that we were trying to do something before we felt Matt was going to be good."

But there's a difference between good and great.

That's the fundamental issue between the two sides. It's unclear how much Forte wanted, but Angelo noted in several instances during the preseason that Forte was not an unrestricted free agent.

In the NFL, a deal that averages about $6 million a season gets a running back closer to good than great. Consider that Steven Jackson and DeAngelo Williams get an average of $8.6 million on their latest deals, while Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson average over $13 and $14 million, respectively.

So is Peterson worth more than twice what Forte is?

But here's another way to look at why Forte balked at the Bears offer, even though he's making $600,000 this season. San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore got a deal that averaged $7 million a year -- back in March 2007.

Gore is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, but he's played all 16 games just once in his six previous NFL seasons and has not been as statistically productive as Forte, which has been documented. Before the start of this regular season, Gore signed another three-year extension that averages $7 million and includes $13.5 million in guarantees.

Even Forte's backup, Marion Barber, landed a contract that averaged $6.5 from the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, when the club projected he'd be a featured back. Barber, though, six

Through five games this season, Forte is now first in total yards from scrimmage with 785, and he's also sixth in rushing yards (440) and seventh in total catches (30).

According to ESPN, he's accounted for a league-high 51.5 percent of his team's total offensive yardage. The next closest player? Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, at 40.1 percent.

The last NFL running back to finish a season with more than 50 percent of his team's total yardage was O.J. Simpson in 1973.

Asked if he can carry his offense, Forte said, "I've always been prepared to carry the load.

"As a running back, you have to run, catch and block. And whatever they call on me to do, I'm prepare to do. And I've been doing that my entire career. It's not going to change now."

Until he's no longer a Bear, which looks the way things are headed.

Angelo said there's nothing new toward a deal, and Forte's agent Adisa Bakari told the Sun-Times last week that the process dragging on and on will only complicate matters.

"We've stated, from the very beginning, the longer we wait, the more difficult and complicated it becomes."

The Bears, of course, could franchise him at a projected cost of about $8 million for the 2012. But, if Forte continues to play well, they may be best served trading him to another club that will work out a contract with him.

If that happens, though, Angelo would be letting go of arguably his best draft pick - in terms of value and production - during his tenure as Bears general manager. Then, he'd have to find another productive running back.

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10 Comments

Great article, Sean Thank you. It highlights the real problem - the McCaskey family is greedy and unconscionable. The Bears belong to Chicago, not to these spoiled heirs, and that includes Virginia.

This is getting stupid. Trade Matt Forte, thats insane! I don't understand what the problem is here? Forte is hands down the best player on offense Chicago has right now. If Jerry Angelo trades him it will be career suicide.

All you ever hear is how the Bears bad offensive line is whats holding Jay Cutler back, which is true, but the thing is, you never hear anybody say the line is holding Forte back? We all agree the Bears line is bad, so how come with a bad line, Matt Forte is leading the league in yards from scrimmage, and is 6th in rushing, 51.5% of the Bears offense? How is he doing that with a bad line? How, I'll tell you how, he's a talent, a top 5 running back. We all agree Adrian Peterson is a top 3 back, maybe #1. Give Forte 7 time Pro-Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson to block for him like Peterson has. Don't you think its funny Hutchinson misses 5 games last season and Peterson only has 1,298 yards rushing? Heck, give Forte Chris Johnson's line in Tennessee, Michael Roos and David Stewart might be the leagues best set of tackles, and guard Jake Scott isn't no slouch. I bet behind this line Forte puts up 1,500 yards rushing.

Lance Briggs is Angelo best defensive draft pick, and Forte is easily his best offensive draft pick, for petes sake don't let Forte go! With 440 yards rushing, Forte is on pace to have 1,408 yards on the ground, and with 30 catches, he'll easily have over 50, maybe 60. If so, he's a top 3 back. Pay the man, Forte is worth more than $8.6 million, if you don't want to pay him $13-14 million, give him $12-13 million. They need to work something out fast, don't let this carry over into the off-season GO BEARS!!

The McCaskey family needs to fire Angelo. Matt Forte is one of the best Running Backs in the league. Angelo agree to give Barber $6.5 million and offer Forte $6 million????? He has been worth more than $600,000 after his first season. What is Roy Williams making? Matt Forte has been more productive than Roy Williams every year. I don't think the Bears organization wants to win. If I was Forte, I would ask to be traded. Why should he be insulted year after year? If Forte leaves, Angelo needs to be fired.

This is insane! Pay him NOW! This is a good character kid, and one if not THE most versatile backs on the planet. I have been a fan my entire life and am embarassed by the lack of dedication by ownership to the fans. You can't nickle and dime your way to championships. PAYFORTE! And also use some of that cap room to bring in some sustainable and young talent. Jay Cutler is by far the best QB we have had in my lifetiime, but if things continue to go this way, he is GONE. BearDown!

Part of me wants to agree with you but we are not the Packers, we don't own the tem, they do and they have never felt the need to hold themselves accountable to the fans. Simply put if you were to go into Halas hall and ask who was in charge dozen people would raise their hands, then they would sit down and argue about what needs to be done.

As for Forte, I still feel like he does not want to be here, and I don't blame him, his GM under values him, ownership is lost, his head coach does not know offense, he has a bad O-Line which the Bears flat out refuse to fix and that effects him as well as Cutler, they have no recievers, and he knows he has value to a lot of teams.

Kevin for some strange reason the Titans line is doing a really nice job in pass protection, probably because they have an offense that gets rid of the ball quickly, but the run blocking is suspect and was suspect last year as well. But they have improved. Roos has been his overall solid self but Stewart has been brutal in run blocking, Scott has been bad as well, Harris is mediocre,and Amano is the worst center in football. Pats have the best line in Football, Light is having a great year, Mankins is Mankins, Waters is playing great(so glad we passed on him), Solder is playing well, and Connolly has been improving every week. The Pats could fart and would come out a stud tackle.

What is a real surprise to me is how bad so many lines are this year, and how bad so many teams are. This may be the worst football league wide I can remember.

Colts, Rams, Jags, Seahawks, Cards, Dolphins, Broncos, Titans, Eagles, Chiefs, Bears, are playing some ugly, ugly football. You can put in plenty of other teams as well, Browns, Jets, Falcons, Panthers. You heard of the Suck for Luck, well this is the suck to suck year.

One thing that really disgusts me as a fan, is that Angelo has only offered Matt 6 millioin per year. What a joke. And the whole "we have to pay him market-value for a non-restricted free agent" thing is so insulting to Matt and the fans.

Angelo is a d!@k idiot. They have gotten an incredible BARGAIN out of Forte at 600k per year. The situation is not being looked at from an ethical, or even a 5-year cost of ownership, ROI standpoint. Matt Forte is playing 8 million dollar man football. He has been for 3 years...at 600-800k. The McCaskeys and Angelo are paying the many less than 10% of his actual worth. The Bears have made big money off Forte - and are still trying to get some bargain basement deal out of the man. Jesus. How sad is that?

The man saved you money!!!!!! Pay him what he's due!!!!

There is a difference between being shrewd and being unethical. To this point, Angelo falls under the latter. He and the McCaskeys should be ashamed.

I posted this in a different thread by mistake. It was meant to go here.

One thing that really disgusts me as a fan, is that Angelo has only offered Matt 6 millioin per year. What a joke. And the whole "we have to pay him market-value for a non-restricted free agent" thing is so insulting to Matt and the fans.

Angelo is a d!@k idiot. They have gotten an incredible BARGAIN out of Forte at 600k per year. The situation is not being looked at from an ethical standpoint. Matt Forte is playing 8 million dollar man football. He has been for 3 years. The McCaskeys and Angelo are paying the man less than 10% of his actual worth.

The Bears have made big money off Forte - and still trying to get a bargain!

The man saved you money!!!!!! He accounts for 50% of your offensive yards!!!! Pay him what he's due!!!!

Angelo got his ROI with Matt. As a business man who deals with contracts all the time, it disgusts me to see the Bears BEST ASSET treated in such a manner.

Matt is out there, putting everything on the line for 600k while the McCaskeys and Angelo count their pennies. Disgusting. Unethical.

Other free agents around the league will be looking at this situation, the Kreutz situation, and others. It's bad for business.

Esteven, you say Angelo and the McCaskeys are unethical. I guess that's what I meant
when I said the McCaskeys are unconscionable. Big word, but it seems to fit - they have no conscience. As a Bears fan I am disgusted, too.

As a lifelong bears fan I was embarrased to watch the game against Detroit.Fire Angelo Fire Lovie fire Martz!!!!! Sorry to say this but we need to rebuild starting with the coaches! It's been a decent run but to many lucky bounces in those good seasons isn't going to get it done anymore! Forte is a GREAT back!! If he has to go somewere else I wish him all the best !! It's the bears fault if he does! Definetly not easy to be a bears fan anyday!!!! GO HAWKS!!!!!

As a die hard Bear fan, I am so disguised with this whole Matt Forte deal I don't even know where to begin. We're not trying to split ATOM'S here, this is a NO BRAINER DEAL. Pay Matt what he is worth as a professional football player who accounts for more than 50% of your total offense. DEANGELO, IF YOU LET HIM GET AWAY, YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED IN THE BEARS WINNING, AND YOU SHOULD BE FIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on October 12, 2011 9:10 AM.

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