Matt Forte is one of the few still unsigned franchise players out there. Today he made it clear that is he “definitely” not looking to be the league’s highest paid running back, just to “be given a contract” where he is paid “among some of the top running backs.” That might be a shot at Ray Rice, another unsigned franchise player who reportedly wants Adrian Peterson money, which would make him the league’s highest paid back.
Forte definitely deserves to be paid among the league’s best running backs, which is what he is. LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, DeAngelo Williams, Chris Johnson, and Marshawn Lynch all have gotten deals worth about 7-9 million per year over 4-5 years over the last calendar year and Forte likely wants to join that club.
However, the Bears are playing major hardball with him, signing Michael Bush to a 4 year deal to potentially replace him if necessary and saying they are concerned about Forte’s knees holding up. There is some contact between the two sides, but unlike Rice and the Ravens, a deal does not appear imminent.
For what it’s worth, Jay Cutler expects Matt Forte to sign his tender by Training Camp and be there regardless of whether or not he’s gotten his deal. He might have to play out the season on the 7.7 million dollar franchise tender and put the pressure on the Bears next offseason with another good year. He’d be a free agent again next offseason and would be owed 9-10 million if franchised again thanks to league rules. He probably doesn’t want to have to prove himself again this season though.