Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips addressed the ongoing discussions with RB Matt Forte by mentioning that they’ve made him “a strong [contract] offer.”
“I think not only do we appreciate him and have told him so, but I think the offer we’ve made him shows that, too. Now, different people can disagree on the ultimate value,” Phillips said, per Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “But we feel we’ve made a strong offer to him, and are still hopeful he accepts it.”
Forte has been very vocal as of late regarding the current state of his contract negotiations, especially after the Bears signed RB Michael Bush to a four-year contract. There has been speculation that the addition of Bush was a deliberate attempt to lower Forte’s asking price.
Ted Phillips did little to shoot that idea down.
“Matt Forte is our No. 1 running back,” said Phillips. “He’s been told that, and he knows that. We all know that. He’s going to be a Bear for 2012, at least.”
That’s not necessarily a strong commitment to Forte’s long-term prospects of playing in Chicago. The problem for him is that, the Bears are holding all of the leverage in this situation. If he goes out and puts together another hugely productive season for them, they could just slap the franchise tag on him for the second straight year, even though it comes with a 20% increase. If Bush proves to be a worthy compliment to Forte, then they’re not going to pay him the type of money he’s looking for. He’ll be 27 at the end of next season and the way the market has been for running backs in recent years, Forte could end up with even worse offers then what’s current on the table.