Here’s a look at some of the deals signed by running back over the last few years:
- Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings – 7 years, $96 Million ($36 Million guaranteed)
- Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans – 4 years, $53 Million ($30 Million guaranteed)
- LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles – 5 years, $45 Million ($20.765 Million guaranteed)
- Arian Foster, Houston Texans – 5 years, $43.5 Million ($20.7 Million guaranteed)
- Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams – 6 years, $49.3 Million ($21 Million guaranteed)
- DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers – 5 years, $43 Million ($21 Million guaranteed)
- Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars – 5 years, $31 Million ($17.45 Million guaranteed)
- Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks – 4 years, $31 Million ($17 Million guaranteed)
Out of all the running backs from the above list, I’d only rank two of them above Forte – McCoy & Foster. The jury is still out on Chris Johnson, whose hold out last season lead to him under performing. All the others have age and injury warts that would scare me off if they were on the free market.
With Matt Forte sitting at home, reluctant to sign the 1 year, $7.7 Million franchise tender the Bears have tagged him with, Forte’s true worth is up for debate. He has been a consistent performer since entering the League in 2008. However, with the Bears acquiring free agent running back Michael Bush, how much should the Bears invest in Forte? The Bears are not strapped for cash, and could make a very lucrative offer. The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs explains:
If there is one thing that will not get in the way of a long-term contract for Matt Forte, it is the salary cap. The Chicago Bears have more than enough room to sign the Pro Bowl running back to a multi-year extension — and have remaining cap space to conduct business as needed leading up to and through the 2012 season.
After signing their six-man draft class, the Bears have $3.81 million in remaining cap space, according to an NFL source. Doesn’t sound like enough room to get Forte the kind of deal in the range of contracts Dan Pompei dissected in Sunday’s Tribune? It is. Forte’s salary-cap figure of $7.742 million from the franchise tag is already factored into the club’s space even though he has yet to sign the one-year tender.
Chances are the Bears could sign Forte, 26, to a deal that would even lower that salary-cap figure from $7.742 million for 2012, meaning the surplus of $3.81 million would then grow by a little bit. Of course, that’s only if the two sides can carve out some common ground and make a deal.
With the Bears expected to rely more on Jay Cutler’s arm in the upcoming season, I don’t see them breaking the bank to pay Forte. They don’t have to. They can re-apply the franchise tag once again next offseason, extending this soap opera for another year. I’ve written extensively on my thoughts on what the Bears should do. I don’t see the Bears attempting to work out a trade for Forte, so expect this drama to continue for the foreseeable future.