A bit of news was made last night on the NFL Network with Matt Forte's interview over the phone regarding his contract talks. Forte gave us the first real clue into his contract demands with this quote:
"I just want to be given a contract where I rank among some of the top running backs. Not the top paid or anything like that. I just want to be recognized as one of the best."
A fair quote to be certain but there's a problem with this quote in terms of the value Matt Forte sees for himself. Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson are the top two paid running backs in the NFL and Forte is not going to be paid, nor does he deserve to be paid like either one of their contract extensions.
Peterson got $36-million in guaranteed money as part of a $100-million deal seven year deal. Absurd given how quickly RBs in this league break down physically.
Chris Johnson signed a deal with $30-million in guaranteed money, money that Forte will not be paid and should not be paid by the Chicago Bears.
That leaves the market for guaranteed money at around $20-million in guaranteed money, with the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams screwing everyone else on the market with his absurd $21-million deal for a guy who may not be the best RB on his team.
So if the Bears are willing to give Forte $20-million in guaranteed money, then why hasn't Forte signed an extension? If Matt Forte has any business sense then it would seem to reason that $20-million in guaranteed money is on the table from the Bears.
The Bears have made it be known that they are hesitant to give Matt Forte a contract extension based on his knee concerns. However the Bears also seem to be willing to place the franchise tag on Matt Forte for a second consecutive year there by guaranteeing him a salary of $17.02-million over the next two seasons.
Based on what we do know the question then becomes are the Bears holding off on a Matt Forte extension over $3-million in guaranteed over the course of an additional three seasons?
The simple GM thing to do would be to offer Forte an extension of five years with the $20-million guaranteed, which is probably what the Bears are offering.
It stands to reason that the Bears are not stuck in the mud with Matt Forte's contract extension talks because of $3-million in guaranteed money over the course of three years.
So where is the gulf in these negotiations? Likely in the amount of up front money Forte would receive in the first three years of the deal. Arian Foster is getting around $30-million in the first three years of his five year extension with $21-million guaranteed. With Forte's franchise number in the second year of a franchise tag year expected to go up to $9.28-million, a hypothetical third franchise year (which cannot happen under the terms of the CBA) Forte would stand to add an additional 20% in guaranteed salary with the third year of a deal. Putting his magical guaranteed money at around $28.15-million over the course of three years.
When you take the $7.74-million Forte would receive in 2012 add it to the $9.28-million Forte would make in a second franchise tagged year in 2013 and put add in an additional and COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL $11.13-million for the mandatory 20% increase for consecutive franchise tag deals over the course of three years you get $28.15-million dollars in up front money over the course of a five year contract extension.
The next question is are the Bears refusing to offer $28.15-million in up front money over the course of three years? If they had the option of slapping the franchise tag on Matt Forte for a third consecutive time and Forte was still playing at a high level after the 2013 season, wouldn't it stand to reason the Bears would exercise this option? So the question becomes is the contract squabble over the $2.85-million dollars or something more?
The guess here is Forte values himself out of the range of a five year contract extension with $20-million in guaranteed money and around $30-million in the first three years of the deal.