I'm a huge Matt Forte fan. After his first NFL game against the Colts, in front of a national audience, I thought he could be something special and had the potential to be an elite back. After last season, I was in the minority who thought that he proven that he was an elite running back. Elite, by definition, is being in the top five in their position.
Now after 8 weeks into the NFL season, Forte leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,091 yards even with a bye. Forte is proving to be elite and making everyone believe in him.
In the offseason, I strongly believed the Bears needed to sign him to a long term contract as he was outperforming his rookie contract.
During the preseason, the Bears offered Forte a deal reportedly worth between $13-$14 million guaranteed with a $6 million a year. It was a fair deal, at the time, because the general consensus was that Forte was a good running back but not elite.
Forte rejected the offer because it wasn't Chris Johnson or DeAngelo Williams money but the contract would still make him one of the highest paid running backs. Both players were grossly overvalued and both the Titans and Panthers offered stupid contracts and blew the market wide open.
Just because these teams were naive to offer these contracts doesn't mean the Bears have to join in. The contracts were naive because the average career life of a running back is shorter than other positions and the production can drop off significantly, as we've seen with both Johnson and Williams.
You may not like Jerry Angelo and question his personnel decisions but he does make roster moves that are best for the team. In addition, Angelo has to draw a line in the sand. He simply cannot submit to a player's demands because it could result into a jailbreak of players demanding unreasonable or unrealistic requests.
The Bears have every right to franchise tag Forte for the next two seasons. By the time he becomes an unrestricted free agent, he will be 28 and could be offered a contract worth less than what he was offered by the Bears as he will be closer to the twilight of his career.
This is becoming a public battle that needs to stop because it could become a distraction. Forte recently said the front office is not loyal. The Bears are loyal because the front office did offer Forte a fair contract and tried to pay him but Forte rejected it.
Fans and the national media are joining in on the "Pay Forte" sentiment. It used to be that whenever a player complained about their contract situation, fan sentiment would be around how they thought the player was selfish and a complainer. Not with Forte's contract situation.
Bears fans have been so unjustifiably disenfranchised with the front office they've taken Forte's side.
Although it may be a difficult process, I'm still confident that a deal will get done because Forte is simply too valuable to let go or continue to keep unhappy. Forte is Angelo's diamond in the rough of draft picks because he has not had much success in drafting impact offensive players.