I don't think this community understands how much it owes Matt Forte. He has been our offense for the last three years. He's shouldered that responsiblity with great character and has been every bit the good soldier. He has done everything that he's been asked. Matt Forte is a top 5 running back while being paid, for years mind you, less than his backups. The same backups that managed to lose us a wild card slot last year.
He may not be the best in the league, but there are times when I would take him over any other running back. Some of the trolls on this site have the temerity to compare him to Cedric Benson, which is a loathesome, destestable comment completely lacking in respect and acknowledgement of recent history.
Cedric NEVER earned his money and was a constant cancer in the locker room. Forte has been a good soldier and should be rewarded.
I seem to remember multiple threads last season stating that "the Chicago Bears Offense Revolves Around Matt Forte" and we need to "pay the man" I still believe we should. It sends a signal to the rest of the team that when you produce you will be rewarded. He has done everything that he's been asked to do. He's an example you want other players to follow.
If he holds out this year the Bears will not be as good as they could have been. If we lose him to free agency next year, it will be a major loss. Finding contract numbers acceptable to both parties should be a priority. To do otherwise would reek of the same poor decision-making tat let Olin Kreutz go last year.
I hope the Bears don't become a mercenary outfit like the Raiders or the Washington Redskins. I believe the Bears have been a team capable of rewarding good work. I know this is a business, but paying Matt Forte is still good business.
The Michael Bush signing was a good one for the Bears. It ensures we have a capable, talented running back in training camp through the preseason and into the regular season. The threat was that Forte would hold out and our offense would be damaged as a result. It was a sophisticated signing that worked in every way to the Bears advantage. Make no mistake, this was a direct communication to Matt Forte to not hold out and the Bears were intelligent to make this decision.
What does Forte want, though? In one of the worst markets for running backs ever, Forte isn't demanding that we break the bank or set a record. Last I heard, Forte wanted more than waht Marshawn Lynch received from the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch got a four year deal worth $32 million and includes $18 million guaranteed. Arian Foster recieved a five year, $43.5 million extension with over $20 million in guarantees. That makes his estimation of worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 million a year, just under what we'll be paying for Brandon Marshall.
As much as I like the Brandon Marshall signing, he hasn't played a down, caught a ball, or gained a yard for us yet. Forte has. Give him an incentive-laden contract that befits his ability and history with this franchise. He's already broken franchise records for the bears.
And to you, I ask, "What would you pay the man? What's fair?"