It's been going on for a long time now, and there still doesn't seem an end on sight. Of course, I am referring to the contract situation between the Chicago Bears and their star running back Matt Forte. Even the voices that were previously shouting 'pay Forte' have begun to go ominously quiet, as frustration seems to be setting in, both with the fans and surely with the Bears organization as well. But fear not. Forte is not the only running back on the roster. Could we see Michael Bush as the starting RB by the time beginning of the season rolls around? Read on to find out.
Realistically, I think the only real way that Bush gets the starting job is if Forte really did decide to seriously hold out. As in missing regular season games. Either that, or he suffers some kind of self inflicted injury during all this time he is missing workouts.
But part of me would resent that. Part of me would want to give the job to Bush anyway. The former Oakland Raider rusher has done the right thing. He has attended the workouts and OTA's, and is getting ready to try and be part of a successful season in Chicago.
Bush still seems resigned to the fact that he will predominantly be used as a backup, or to give Forte a breather when necessary. He said:
"When (Forte) gets here, I mean, to me my role doesn't change, as it was in Oakland," Bush said after Wednesday's session in Lake Forest. "(Forte) is in, he gets tired, he goes out. I come back in or whatever. I'm ready. I just know that when it is my turn, I will be ready."
But surely he must be contemplating the possibility, however small that may be, that he might find himself taking most of the carries come September.
Much has been made of the Forte situation, and I am currently leaning to the side that is in favour of him just signing the franchise tender. This doesn't mean that negotiations must stop. It just means that Forte can join the team properly and begin to prepare for the season. Does he not want to play football? Why is he turning his nose up at $7 million?
It was mentioned in one of the comments on this article, that if Forte was to get injured at home right now, the Bears would not be obliged to pay him a penny. If he had signed the franchise deal already, he'd still be sitting on his $7 million, which is not a number to be scoffed at.
It's a shame, because Forte has been something of a fan favourite. It's not as if he's some kind of Terrell Owens type character, causing a major storm about him not being paid. Apart from a misjudged Twitter outburst, Forte has remained very mild mannered throughout all this. I think that's what makes it even more frustrating. You just want him to see sense, or at least what most people are seeing as sense.
But could Bush carry the workload as a number one running back. No, he's not as good as Forte in the passing game, but he is a competent runner, who started nine games last season for the Raiders when Darren McFadden was injured. Take a little look at this video to get an idea of what kind of RB he is.
I know it would make sense, but I get annoyed to think that the Bears would just hand Forte the starting job, even if he turned up the night before the first game of the season. Perhaps they wouldn't, but I am sure they'd feel like their hands were tied.
If I was in charge, I'd be setting some kind of deadline for Forte. Franchise players have until July 16 to try and get a long term deal in place; after that they must play under the franchise tag, or possibly sit out games.
Hopefully it will all end well and Forte and the Bears will get something more long term than a franchise tag contract in place. But if they don't Michael Bush is waiting in the wings, ready to take his opportunity to lead this team.
Perhaps that chance should be afforded to him anyway?