Bears sign Michael Bush: Disrespectful or Commendable?

Bears sign Michael Bush: Disrespectful or Commendable?

From day-one Bears’ RB Matt Forte has been a team player. He’s played hurt when he could have sat out. He’s showed up when he could have held out. And he’s been the most explosive—and arguably the most underpaid—member of the Chicago Bears’ offense for two seasons now.

And now, he’s being paid among the top at his position.

Although it’s clear that the addition of running back Michael Bush is a positive move for the Bears in terms of talent on the field, Matt seems through being a team player . . . at least until he gets what he feels is owed him.

Instead of acknowledging the positive impact the move could have on his team, Forte seems to think the acquisition is a slap in the face.

“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,” Forte said on his twitter page shortly after the news was announced.

The Bears signed Bush—a potential League starter—to a four-year contract Thursday, essentially shifting the already unbalanced balance of power even more in the Bears’ favor. With Bush on board, any extra incentive the Bears had to sign Forte to a long-term extension is non-existent.

(Before signing Bush, they faced the real concern that Matt could hold out to start the season.)

They could still face that concern, but with Bush in place, they needn't worry too much. Under the new CBA, Forte would face a fine of $30,000 each day he should chose to hold out. It would only take twenty days from the start of the team’s mandatory off-season program for Matt to be fined his entire 2011 salary.

So even a hold out isn’t of much concern going into the regular season.

Bush’s contract with the Bears is worth $14 million and includes $7 million in guarantees, according to the Chicago Tribune. Forte is likely seeking double that. But nonetheless, Bush will be the third backup RB in Forte’s tenure who will have been signed to a multi-year, multi-million, veteran deal.

Should the Bears keep the tag on Forte, he’ll be paid a hefty $7.7 million in 2012, but Matt understandably wants the security of a long-term deal with guaranteed cash.

Bears’ GM Phil Emery said this of Forte prior to the start of free agency: ‘‘We believe in Matt as a player and a person. Our intention is to continue to work to find common ground and keep Matt as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2012 and beyond.’’ Emery has said that remains the goal of the team.

So why no deal? Simple: Forte values himself higher than the Bears do. In addition to that, the Bears are under zero pressure and in no rush to bend to Matt’s demands.

What Forte should understand is that being franchise tagged is not “disrespectful.” Football is business—big business—and the more players I hear talk about it as if they’re not shocked by the business side of the NFL, while simultaneously feeling disrespected, the more I think these guys just don’t get it.

The difference between Matt Forte and Michael Bush is that Matt is NOT an unrestricted free agent; Bush is. Apart from that, the NFLPA just agreed to a TEN-YEAR collective bargaining agreement, which clearly spells out the rules governing the franchise tag. And yet, players still threaten to hold out when the tag is used . . .

Hate to say it, but you had your chance.

As for Michael Bush, he joins the Bears after playing four seasons for the Oakland Raiders (2008-11) where he rushed 632 times for 2,642 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 21 touchdowns.

The 6’1”, 245 lb. RB out of Louisville had his most productive pro season in 2011, setting career highs in attempts (256), yards (977), touchdowns (7), receptions (37), receiving yards (418) and starts (9) while playing in all 16 games.

The former fourth-round pick (100th overall) entered the NFL in 2007 and spent his entire rookie season rehabbing a leg injury which he suffered during his final collegiate season. He’s another great addition to an already improved football team.

Of course, the signing of Bush likely spells the end for Marion Barber, who is due approximately $2 million (after workout bonuses) in 2012. The Bears can save about $100,000 should they chose to cut Barber before the start of off-season workouts. Keeping him into camp, however, provides even more insurance.


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  • IMO, commendable. I like Forte, but he's a "good" not "great" RB. When I think if "great" RBs I think of Sayers, Payton, Campbell, Sanders, Dickerson, J. Brown, etc. Forte doesn't come close to being in the same class as these NFL greats. Signing Bush provides insurance in case Forte holds out, or gets injured during the season. IMO, Forte is greate btwn the 20s. However, he has difficulty getting the tough yards in goalline and end of game situations i.e. when you need 1-3 yards to secure a first down to run out the clock.. Plus, while he's somewhat elusive, he doesn't ever seem to get much yardage after first contact. I'm excited at the idea of having both Forte and Bush in the backfield at the same time. I think Bush (245 lbs) can easily fill the role of a FB, and this will provide the Bears' offense alot of options.

  • In reply to Aero1964:

    I value Forte as one of the best in the league, currently. I think that's been well-documented. It's all a semantics game when we start talking "elite" and "great," but the bottom line is that he's one of the best in his field right now. You're right, tho. Bush is a nice addition, and the Bears are well within their rights (and probably fiscal responsibilities) to keep Matt tagged.

  • I was very suprised that the Bears made this move...lots of money in one position...where have I read that?

    I think what isn't being talked about is that the Forte negotiations are not going anywhere. It is hard for me to understand the scale of $ that Forte is turning his nose up at...if I had a fraction of one year of his salary, I could change my life for the better for now and ever after. I couldn't help uttering the phrase "prima donna".

    My take...being a person who makes a living in negotiation....your only as good as your next best option. Most, if not all, negotiation comes down to leverage and it can be a contentous business. Bush was signed as an alernative and as leverage. My prediction is that Bush will be Chicago's feature back next year. There was absolutely no reason for the bears to dump this much cap money in this position. I really thought it to be posturing and leverage...Forte's reaction just reaffirms my hunch...it is the Bears next best option. If Forte holds out...so be it...if Forte plays and doesn't sign...so be it. If he wants to be a bear and setlle for a mere pittance of a multi million dollar contract then great. If a vendor raises a price, I immediately look for alternatives...often I change vendors or get a price concession from the original vendor...next best alternative and that is how it really works.

  • In reply to Mouser:

    Great points, all.

    You're right about having so much invested into one position. Even more interesting might be how much the Bears have invested in "depth" this off-season . . . think about it: Bush as your #2 back, Campbell as your #2 QB, Weems as a supplement to Hester in the return game . . .

  • Personally, I have ZERO concern with the cash we're payin for quality backups that have "starter" ability. We lost two guys last year & it started a domino effect of losing due to the lack of quality replacements.

    As for Forte, his agent is doing him a huge disservice! Bush will help his durability & ultimately extend his playing career. It's unfortunate because I think he's a stand-up guy who didn't shout "pay me, pay me" after a brilliant rookie year & had been relatively quiet about the issue until last season.

    Bottom line is we're better now with both him & Bush in the backfield. As far as the business aspect & Forte feeling personally "disrespected", well, Matt's gonna have to learn how to seperate the two as a professional.

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