Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears has come into his own this season. He is leading the team in rushing yards and receptions, yet at the same time Forte wants a new contract. His expires after the season and he feels he is woefully underpaid. This has caused him and his agent some sleepless nights.
Forte now talks like he is a scholar among NFL running backs. He is upset at the Bears for not giving him what he wants, which is a new contract. Meanwhile the team, in Forte’s opinion, uses him too much and is demolishing his career. Forte explained recently at a Bears workout.
“The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field. Everyone acknowledges that. So to continue to give me the touches I’ve had, since my rookie year, but not award me a long-term contract sends the message that you’re OK grinding me into a pulp.”
Forte will turn 26 in December. After this season he is at the end of his four-year, $3.7 million rookie contract. The Bears made Forte a second-round pick in 2008 and he makes $600,000 this season, the league minimum for a player with his NFL experience.
Maybe Forte has a point. But the players today don’t look at the game, they look at the business. This is a 180 degree turn from the players of the past. Those players used to take a job in the off season, just to keep their families fed. Maybe Forte should go talk to the millions who are without a job and wondering where their next meal is coming from. Maybe then Forte can look at his job in the NFL being a blessing.
Forte certainly is deserving. He is the third leading rusher in the NFL since he came into the league. He’s accumulated more yards from scrimmage this season than any other player. And as stated, he also is currently playing under a contract.
Athletes today feel teams “owe” them an extension. Meaning they want the extension before the current deal is even up. That has worked out for certain players in the past, such as Chris Johnson of Tennessee. While Johnson was hungry and aching for a better deal, he was second in the league in rushing for three seasons, second only to Adrian Peterson.
Yet look at what Johnson has done has done since he held out and got his new extension. There are some that feel he isn’t running like he used to, and there is even talk Mike Munchak will replace him in the lineup soon.
But back to Forte. There is no rush for the Bears to get him a new deal. He is signed, sealed and delivered through this season. Afterwards the Bears can still match any offer Forte gets from another team. So the team has no urgency. They can sit back and see what the market set’s as Forte’s value.
Forte is correct about the Bears using him up, but there is the dilemma in his argument. If the Bears didn’t use him as they have, Forte would have no basis for a new deal. It’s only because the Bears use him the way they do he has any leverage at all.
Such is the life of an NFL running back.