Chicago Bears fans, you can rejoice. Or exhale. Or throw confetti.
Whatever you had planned to do when Matt Forte signed, go ahead and do it now.
Some may say it's insane—that running backs are interchangeable in most cases and that money spent on a back is better saved and spent on multiple positions or a more vital one, such as quarterback.
First, this is by no means an unreasonable deal. The details, as the Sun-Times' Sean Jensen reports them, are that it's a four-year deal totaling $32 million with $18 million of it guaranteed.
The guaranteed money is less than that of Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy, who also signed longer deals this offseason. Considering what Forte has made the last few years, it's a significant bump. Considering what other backs have made, it's not outlandish.
He got one year less, and the Bears didn't break the bank to keep him. It's a compromise and one which will keep everyone happy and satisfied, if not totally ecstatic.
While he's no longer the almost criminal bargain he has been in the past, he's not costing them so much that they are hamstrung for other contracts—which means they can keep building and not get worse.
I've said before that a backfield of Forte and Michael Bush should worry the other teams in the NFC North.
Forte has been a tremendously productive back, topping 1,000 yards two out of his four years and nudging that benchmark the other two years, including last season when he missed four games.
Bush has been very productive as well, chiefly as a No. 2 back behind oft-injured Darren McFadden.
With both of them in camp, this instantly becomes the top backfield in the NFC North and one of the better ones in the league. As much as I like Adrian Peterson, even healthy he's just one man.
Forte/Bush will wear down defenses while keeping a bit fresher themselves so that later in the game one of the two (if not both) will have the wind to take advantage of a gassed defense.
Speaking of defense, it also helps the Bears defense as it can see a little less time on the field. While teams in the league like to throw the ball, the Bears have the backfield to slow things down, grind the clock out and keep the opposition's offense off the field, as well as their own defense.
This will keep the defense fresher, vital as the year wears on and teams hit the late, and difficult, portion of the schedule.
Getting Forte into the fold again, and happy, makes this possible and has the domino effect of giving this offense—which will be still finding its feet with new faces and schemes—something to rely on as it gets its act together.
Long term it's also a good deal. As I mentioned, it isn't so long that they are stuck with him for six or seven years and not so costly that if he gets hurt or flames out in year two or three that they can't cut him or move him.
The money isn't overwhelming long or short term.
As the Bears continue to try to reload (not rebuild) for a Super Bowl run, they now have a position completely rock solid for the foreseeable future. They have terrific depth in the backfield and room to develop more through the draft.
They didn't hand so much money to Forte that they can't make offers to players looking for contracts next year like Israel Idonije. They can still retain those guys. This isn't like the Peyton Manning deal way back when, which effectively left the Indianapolis Colts with nothing for the defense.
This is a contract which by all appearances allows for the continued growth of the team.
All this while retaining one of the more important pieces of the Bears for the last four years. Make no mistake, Matt Forte was one of the biggest reasons the Bears have been competitive (and in many cases, successful).
And that's the final point. This contract sends an important message to the locker room. You do your job, play hard and do the things you're supposed to do, and the front office will take care of you. Maybe not to the extent you would like, but they will reward you.
Down the road when other players think about what they might do, whether leaving the Bears or coming to Chicago, that message might be worth more than all the guaranteed money in Forte's contract.
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