For essentially the entire Chicago Bears season, the contract situation of running back Matt Forte has been a running theme. Forte is having a dominant year as he continues to establish himself as one of the game's elite at the position, and he's been openly frustrated about the lack of progress that's been made on a contract extension.
Forte spoke to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun Times on Wednesday, and he continues to voice his frustration with how he feels that the team has treated him.
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.
Obviously, that's not the kind of message that any team should be sending to one of its best players. Forte has been worked harder than nearly every other running back in the game over the past four years, having never missed a game since being drafted in 2008.
While both sides were initially quite optimistic, things have progressively gotten worse of late. The Bears have publicly said that they expect to place the franchise tag on Forte if an extension can't be agreed to, and Forte has essentially responded by noting that such action will make him a very unhappy camper.
If they think by just slapping the franchise tag on me that’s going to silence anything, they’re sadly mistaken. That’s not going to cure everything. It’s not a solution, I would say.
The Bears are a team that really, really can't afford to have an unhappy Matt Forte. He's one of the game's elite running backs, and essentially the lone weapon on Chicago's offense that other teams really have to plan for. Without any top-level wide receivers and a poor offensive line, Forte's developed into one of the most valuable backs in the league. The consensus is essentially that the Bears will have to pay him sooner or later, which is leaving some to wonder why the Bears continue to insist upon tightening the purse strings. At this point, Forte seems like he's genuinely offended.
It’s kind of getting old right now. Every time you talk to somebody, ‘How come they’re not paying you, man?’ I have no idea. I feel like if it was anybody else on any other team, I think they would have rewarded their player.
That's a pretty powerful comment. Clearly Forte feels underpaid, and as a result of that, utterly unappreciated. Given how important he is to essentially everything that the Bears do on offense, this is a situation that needs to be resolved soon.
For more on the Bears, check out Windy City Gridiron, SB Nation's Chicago Bears blog.