This would not be big news in and of itself, if it wasn't for the fact that this is the third year in a row the Bears have invested money in a running back that was meant to come in and back up starter Matt Forte, who has been looking for a new deal from the club for at least the last two years.
This afternoon, Forte took to Twitter to voice his displeasure:
There's only so many times a man that has done everything he's been asked to do can be disrespected! Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last....
Shortly after he sent out that tweet, Forte's agent, Adisa Bakari, spoke with ESPN's Michael C. Wright, saying:
Since drafting Matt in 2008, the Bears have signed Kevin Jones, Chester Taylor and Marion Barber, all ostensibly to serve as Matt's back-up. To sign yet another running back, prior to completing a contract with Matt suggests disregard for Matt and his contributions to the Bears.
I completely understand where Forte is coming from. He's been a good soldier throughout the entire "Pay the man!" ordeal. He's watched Tennessee's Chris Johnson hold out and get paid while he quietly came to work and performed. And that's another thing: Not only has he performed, he has carried the offense, accounting for close to 50 percent of the Bears' offensive production at one point (per NBC Sports' Michael David Smith).
Unfortunately for Forte, the Bears brought in a new general manager this offseason in Phil Emery. Once that happened, Forte should have known that all bets were off in regards to getting a contract extension. New general managers rarely take past contract disputes into account when going to work on their new rosters and Emery is no exception.
I understand Forte feels disrespected, but how he feels and how the Bears want to go about building their football team are two completely separate things. Giving out big contracts to veteran, workhorse running backs is rarely a good idea.
Last year, Forte was the good solider, and he didn't get the contract he wanted. Now, after watching Johnson hold out, get paid and take a major step back production-wise, it will be even tougher for Forte to get paid. His one real option is to hold out, but even then the Bears can probably move forward without him.
Remember, this is no longer Mike Martz's offense in Chicago, which helped Forte look like Marshall Faulk Lite; it's an offense that the coaches have said wants to focus on running the ball in a way that never happened under Martz. Per the Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure, offensive coordinator Mike Tice said, "We are going to be a powerful run team and we're going to be able to mix in explosive pass plays."
Michael Bush is a powerful runner. Matt Forte? Not so much.
Bakari is right when he says the signing of Bush suggests a disregard for what Forte has done for the Bears. General managers, or at least the ones that are good at their jobs, don't hand out new contracts for things that have been done in the past.
Michael Bush has a clear future with the Bears. Matt Forte can have one if he chooses to—or he can withhold his services and hold out. There's obviously some time before he needs to make that decision, but it's really the only avenue he has in order to fight for the contract he wants.