There is no way to win a debate over player contracts/salaries. Such is clearly the case with Bears running back Matt Forte.
In one corner sit the diehard fans and former players who believe Forte is a great player and should be paid like like an elite running back (Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson…etc.). They do not care about the salary cap implications, shifting league strategy or possibly debilitating knee injuries. “He is great,” they say. “Pay him accordingly.”
In another corner sits Blue Collar Bob – the guy who has no patience for a football player unwilling to accept more than $8 million for a single season of NFL ball. He’s the guy using arguments like “I’d play for a nothing” and “in this economy, with so many folks out of work…”. These gents can not be defeated in debate because they ignore the most simple fact about NFL athletes: they are worth more than the rest of us because they can do things the rest of can’t do. Sure you would play for nothing and that would be an accurate evaluation of your worth on the football field.
I want Matt Forte on the Chicago Bears next season. I want Matt Forte on the Bears for two and three seasons after that. But it is becoming abundantly clear that Emery and the folks at Halas Hall have no intention on paying him what he wants. (Rumors are $20 million guaranteed.) They seem perfectly content to play hardball with Forte and force the back’s hand as the summer progresses and camp moves along. Will it work? Yes I think it will. The Bears have capable running backs on their roster and the addition of big-ticket wide receivers means you will see Forte’s ability to catch the ball significantly devalued.
But this is the last I’ll write about it until a decision is made one way or the other. Unfortunately every time I write a column understanding the organization’s financial philosophy I am painted by a myriad of ex-Bears as anti-player and anti-Forte. Neither is true. But how can we fault the Bears if they DO believe Forte’s knees an issue? Isn’t not concerning himself enough with player injuries one of those attributes that made fans loathe Jerry Angelo? How can we fault the Bears if they DON’T believe Forte is worth $20 million guaranteed? Shouldn’t we allow the new general manager to institute his vision for the ballclub? Agree with Phil Emery or don’t agree with Phil Emery, that’s up to you. But I have no interest in a GM without the gaul to implement his own agenda. Emery has that.
So here’s hoping the Double Deuce is there in Bourbonnais and adding a pivotal piece to what may be the most exciting Bears offense in many a moon. If he’s not there I will be Michael Bush’s number one fan. In the meantime I am going dark on the matter. Lights fading. Fading. Fading a bit more. Out.