The Matt Forte contract situation has gone from bad to worse. The Pro Bowl running back in entering next season under the franchise tag, and he is not happy about it.
The ongoing situation with Forte's contract has lasted almost a year now. He sought a new deal going into last season and threatened to sit out the preseason before deciding against it. There is a good chance he will go a different way this year.
After the recent signing of another backup running back, Forte vented publicly. "There's only so many times a man that has done everything he's been asked to do can be disrespected" said Forte on his Twitter account. "Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last ..."
Smith may still feel everything will work out fine, but if it doesn't soon, there is a good chance Forte will hold out. Here are five reasons why he would be wise to do so.
Running backs have the shortest average of careers in the NFL with just 2.57 years. Forte will already be entering his fifth.
Long gone are the days when a running back would play 10-plus years like Marcus Allen or Emmitt Smith. These days teams seem to recycle running backs every couple of seasons. Forte's next contract could be his last.
Every hit Forte absorbs takes more time off his career. He can not continue to go out on the field taking big shots knowing he's running out of time in his career.
Last season Matt Forte did all the right things. Even though he wanted a new contract he stayed loyal to the team and his teammates. He played hard through most of the season, putting up great numbers.
Then there was a home game in December against the Chiefs last year. Forte ended up missing the rest of the regular season with sprained MCL. His injury compounded with the injury to Jay Cutler sent the team into a tailspin, which caused the Bears to miss the playoffs.
Forte did come back to play in the Pro Bowl, but the damage was done. Forte already took a chance playing without a contract, and he was the one who got burned. If he does that again, he might not be so lucky. The injury could be worse.
Matt Forte has a lot in common with some of the top running backs in the league. All except one thing. He has not gotten a new contract like them.
Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and DeAngelo Williams have all gotten paid within the last year. Only Forte and Rice are the two top running backs who are without new deals.
The running back position may be devalued in today's NFL, but that still does not stop franchises from paying quality backs. Most of all those new contracts set the blueprint for what Forte should get, therefore it should not be hard to get a deal done.
Not only does it look bad to Forte to see his peers get new deals, but it looks bad on the Bears' part to not be able to get this deal done.
To add insult to injury the Bears have invested money in a running back not named Matt Forte. They have signed Michael Bush this offseason. The year before that it was Marion Barber, and the year before that it was Chester Taylor.
There is no problem spending money on depth. The trend more so in the NFL is to have two quality running backs. However, it does look bad when you pay three secondary running backs three years in a row but don't take care of your primary guy.
Forte publicly took to Twitter to vent his frustration after the recent Bush signing. At this point he feels disrespected by the organization, and that will most likely affect negations for the worse.
The Bears still have some cap space left but would be in an even better situation if they are able to get this deal done. Currently Forte's franchise tag puts more of a strain on the salary cap than a long-term deal. Forte is also the most important player on offense, and the team could ill afford to lose him.
Even with Jay Cutler and the addition of Brandon Marshall, Forte still is the key to the Bears offense. New Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice will look to lean on Forte in the running and passing game next season. Last season Forte made up over 40 percent of the team's offense. That number is sure to go down with the new additions next season, but he will still be the focal point.
The Bears can't think of making a playoff run in a very competitive division without Forte in Week 1. The Titans were in a similar situation last year with Chris Johnson. They knew how important he was to their team and gave in to his needs.
Forte is holding all the leverage here. The Bears can't sign another big free agent without getting out of the franchise tag. The team can't go into the season with Michael Bush as their starter and expect to win. There is no equal trade value on the market for Forte, and he is still too young to give up on.