The Chicago Bears announced today the signing of franchise runningback Matt Forte to a four year contract extension, after a year long stalemate in negotatioins. The deal was officially announced at 29 minutes before the dead line to announce the official signing of players designated with the franchise tag.
The Bears had until 3:00 p.m. Chicago time today officially sign Forte to a contract extension or Forte would have to play under the franchise tag.
After the signing both Bears GM Phil Emery and Matt Forte talked about news of a contract extension offering up these thoughts,
“We're very pleased that we were able to come to terms on a four-year extension with Matt,” Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery said. “We're excited to get him on the field and continue working towards our goal of winning a championship.”
“I'm proud to be a Chicago Bear and excited to be here for another four years,” Forté said. “I'd like to thank my family, my agent and the Chicago Bears. I've been working hard this offseason and am looking forward to joining my teammates at training camp next week. I'm glad the business part is done and we can all turn our attention to football and our goal of winning a championship.”
News of the signing went out on twitter and from there many other NFL sources confirmed it.
The news comes a little over three hours before the deadline that would have prevented Forte from signing a long term contract.
Adam Schefter tweeted out that the deal will average $8-million per season over the four year life of the contract.
After nearly a year of a stalemate between the Bears and Forte a deal has been completed.
Forte is slated to earn $18-million in guaranteed money over the length of the four year contract.
The deal is less than the extensions signed by Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy but is in the range of the deal signed by Marshawn Lynch.
Last year Forte rejected a five year contract extension from the Bears because it had less guaranteed money in the contract.
Highlighting some of Forte's value, he is the first runningback in NFL history to rush for over 900 yards and have over 400 yards receiving in each of his first four seasons.
Likely reducing Forte's overall value, he is statistically the worst goal line running back in the NFL with only three touchdowns on 33 carries from inside the five yard line.
The contract parallels the length signed by Michael Bush this off season meaning if both Forte and Bush play out the four year deals, they will be free agents at the same time.
The Bears can now shift their focus to signing DT Henry Melton to a contract extension as he is the next priority free agent to hit the open market at the end of this season.
Melton's rookie deal expires and if he plays up to expectations will likely command much bigger money than Forte.
Defensive tackles value in the open market is greater than the money earned by RBs meaning if Melton improves upon his seven sacks and his run defense he will command a lot of money.