The Forte Gambit: Matt Fortes Contract, The Draft and Phil Emery

The Forte Gambit

A lot has been said, discussed, argued and said again about the Matt Forte contract saga. This is from the perspective of an NFL UK Fan of the Chicago Bears.

It started last season. Former GM Jerry Angelo made him an offer of a multiyear deal (believed to be in the region of $15M guaranteed. Forte declined the offer and whilst in the middle of a career year (and his final year of his rookie contract), it seemed that his gamble had paid off until Forte went down with an injury during the Chiefs game that would rule him out for the remainder of the season.

 

 

Some believe Forte lost his leverage over the Chicago Bears then. Others believe he lost it when the Bears paid Michael Bush in the region of $4M a year to come be Forte’s backup.

It’s fair to say that Matt Forte is in a difficult position right now, whatever side of the argument you stand. He is skipping the Voluntary team workouts at present as, technically, since he hasn’t signed the Franchise Tag tender, he isn’t contracted to attend.
However, we are now less than a week away from the annual Circus parade that is the NFL Draft. It’s been mooted that Bears GM Phil Emery may look to trade Forte for picks. It would mean getting Forte to sign his franchise tender first AND finding a willing partner in the trade.

 

 

 

It also means that both Forte and Bears fans may find out that a franchise RB just isn’t worth the kind of investment of yesteryear (Unless you are the Vikings or the Panthers, apparently!) The Panthers deal for Williams was mind boggling and no one will pay that for a position that has become not only a “shared” role now; the running back by committee issue but also the way in which the league is becoming very pass happy, you only require a serviceable back to help move the chains occasionally.

New England have proved this time and time again over the last 4-5 seasons, with relative no names and past their best players playing RB1 yet they are the most successful franchise of this era. Which leads me back to the original point. Should Emery bait the water and see if there are any takers?
The next question then, what could we realistically get for Forte? Do we seek to move up in the draft? Do we look for future picks from the deal?

 

If we look at the top 10 picks in the first round:

  • Indianapolis – I think it would take more than we have to trade into that spot, should we want to plus they are locked onto Luck.
  • Washington – After paying a King’s ransom to the Rams to trade up to get RGIII, they wouldn’t be interested, even if they do have a slight need at the RB position.
  • Minnesota – They don’t need a RB but this is one spot that we wouldn’t mind trading into if only to snag Matt Kalil. Again, unlikely, even if the Vikings say they are listening!
  • Cleveland – After releasing Hillis this offseason, they do have a need at RB but then why trade for a RB with miles on the clock in the pros when they have Trent Richardson in their lap? No go.
  • Tampa Bay – Tampa have Blount at RB1 and he isn’t considered the long term RB for the team. Potential trade partner here but they would want a bit more than we would want to offer to trade out of the Clairbourne/Blackmon decision.
  • St Louis – The Rams don’t need a RB at the moment and certainly not at the cost of Forte’s new contract for a bit part player.
  • Jacksonville – Even if the rumours of MoJo holding out are true, they wouldn’t want to be paying top RB money to 2 players, Swap Mojo and our 1st this season for Forte and their first next? Nah, I can’t see it either.
  • Miami – They do have Reggie Bush and seem happy with him and their need is QB so not here.
  • Carolina – DeAngelo Williams. Jonathan Stewart. Mike Tolbert. Do you see a need? No, neither do I.
  • Buffalo – Fred Jackson is one of the most underrated RBs in the league and with the money they splashed in Free Agency, doubtful they would want to commit to another boatload.
  • So, aside from possibly Tampa Bay and less likely, Miami and Minnesota, I cannot see any value in Emery trying to trade up in the draft, using the 19th pick and Matt Forte as leverage.

However, and this is where it may get interesting. Trading Matt Forte and our second round selection for possibly a second higher up, a third and possibly a second next year wouldn’t be so farfetched. That would give Chicago an early second round draft selection, which puts us in with the 2nd tier of O Line and D line guys as well as WRs such as Sanu, Jeffery, possibly even Hill, not to mention Fleener, the Stanford TE. It also offers us another 3rd round pick, which is no bad thing for this year’s draft.
I know what some of you are all thinking! Not enough value in the trade for the Bears? THAT is the question that Lovie Smith and Phil Emery need to work out. How valuable is Forte to this franchise RIGHT NOW? Both as an asset to the playing staff and also as trade commodity.
Do they value Forte more than second round trade bait? How highly do they value Forte and what he can bring to the party?

If they do not see value in trading him along with a 2nd round pick then maybe they should get back around a table and see if there is a compromise to be made.

If not, then they are prepared to move along without him after Free Agency this year and this might be the last shot of Matt Forte us Bears fans get to see in the famous Navy and Orange.

About Bombom

Been a Bears fan since 1984, great timing eh? Since developed a love of all things Chicago, except the White Sox, give me some credit! Biggest Sporting Idol was the late, great Walter Payton. Also a fan of Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael and Mike Singletary. Current Bear favourites would have to be Jay Cutler, Peanut Tillman, Brian Urlacher and Matt Forte. For my sins, also a massive Blackburn Rovers fan, feel free to head to the forums to let me know how you feel about that!

3 Comments

  1. macca

    Its thought provoking certainly, but would swapping seconds and gaining a second next year and another third this year really improve us as a team?

    Whichever way our GM goes there are no absolutes. If Matt Forte stays will he be happy and play well? If we trade him for picks, will we get better as a team? Can we rely on Bush to be the starter and perform?

  2. Blitz 46

    One big problem with trying to use Forte as trade bait is he can’t be traded until he has signed a contract – which he won’t.

    The Bears could take a gamble and give him what he wants and then run the risk that another team wants him that bad that they would then trade all what we want to take him and his new super duper contract which would probably make him one of if not the highest paid RB’s in the NFL.

    So, with that in mind I think what you are saying is in fact very far fetched and you can safely say Mr. Forte won’t be going anywhere on draft day unless some very big (and strange) things happen.

  3. Road

    Great article BomBom!

    I’m also afraid that if Forte doesn’t pull his head out of his butt soon, the Bears will have no choice but to move along without him. Considering myself as part of the working poor, it boggles my mind when a guy won’t sign a contract that pays him 10 times more in one year than I’ll make in a lifetime. As much as I really want Forte to help the Bears get to another Super Bowl? There’s a selfish part of me that thinks, let him eat cake and hold out if he thinks he’s so valuable. Matt also needs to realize there’s a lot of money to be made in fan favorite endorsements.

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