The deal that I thought was less likely to get done than Drew Brees was reportedly just finished moments ago as the Bears and star running back Matt Forte have come to an agreement.
The deal, with details still coming in, is said to be for four years at roughly $8 million per year. That’s comparable to the deal that Houston gave star running back Arian Foster, who will average around $8.5 million per year over five seasons.
When the Bears re-signed Khalil Bell and brought in free agent Michael Bush over the offseason, I didn’t think things looked good for Forte long-term in Chicago. At least not in terms of getting a new deal done. But Chicago wanted to avoid any possible distractiont hat a holdout would have caused and apparently gave in to the pro bowler’s demands.
The new deal is a slight raise over the one-year franchise tender that would have paid Forte $7.74 million this season. The new contract Forte and his agent were seeking was well earned based off of his performance in the league up to this point. He has totaled 4,233 rushing yards and 1,985 receiving yards in his early career. He became the first player in NFL history to reach 900 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons along with a pro bowl appearance and rookie of the year honors.
The apparent hold up last season, which saw Forte reject a new deal that would have given him $15 million in guaranteed dollars, was that he was looking for closer to the $36 million that Adrian Peterson got from Minnesota. No word yet on how much of the deal has been guaranteed, but I’d be guess it’s in the $20 to $25 million range, at least.
With the window for NFL running backs being so small, expect to see more guys like this holding out for more guaranteed money as opposed to the years and total contract amount. After the rookie contract plays out, these guys really only get one real shot at a huge pay day. Once you hit what I call “Logan’s Run” (over the age of 30), most teams prefer to go younger.
No other player on the field takes more of a pounding than your workhorse running back. That’s why they can go from awesome to a zero within two years. Think Shaun Alexander. So that guaranteed money is all that really matters.
With Forte, Bush and Bell ready to go for 2012, the Bears are ready to set their targets on the Lions and Packers heading forward. But it will be a short fix only, as Brian Urlacher’s contract is up at the end of the season and it’s pretty likely that quarterback Jay Cutler will be wanting to discuss an extension soon. Especially after that little love letter that Drew Brees just signed.