A holdout no more, Matt Forte and the Bears have finally come to terms on a new contract that will keep him in a Bears uniform through the 2015 season. The four year $32 million dollar deal guarantees $16 million, and also means that Matt Forte will report to training camp next week on time. It was a very suspenseful spring and early summer for both sides. The Bears initially offered Forte the franchise tender which would have paid him $7.7 million for this upcoming season.

Forte had wanted a long-term deal with big money, he mainly wanted the financial guarantee so that he had money for a rainy day just in case God forbid he had a career altering injury. This desire for a guaranteed contract and the money that comes with it was also due to the following reasons… Matt Forte has led the Bears in rushing since he’s been wearing the Burnt Orange and Blue. He has also been one of the best receivers as well.

But he also wanted the security blanket because of injuries that have racked up over his career. On the other hand, the Bears were hesitant to give him such money because of his past injuries. Bears management felt that Forte should have another injury free season before giving him that kind of cash. Forte has been consistent when healthy, like he was during his rookie season in 2008. But in 2009 Forte kinda hit a “sophomore slump” as injuries kept him off the field at times.

In 2010, despite sharing the field with Chester Taylor, Forte managed to rack up another 1,000 yard season. He also had 6 rushing touchdowns and led the team in receiving.  But last season was the defining season that fueled these contract negotiations. Forte started off having the season of his career, then in that late season game against Kansas City Forte went down with a sprained MCL. This came exactly a week after Jay Cutler had his season ending hand injury. Forte would not return to the Bears lineup.

Marion Barber would step in and give it his best until he was banged up towards the end of the year. The final three weeks of the 2011 season would see the emergence of new running backs in the forms of special teamer Kahlil Bell and rookie Armando Allen. The spark provided by these young backs would also be a factor in negotiations. Once the season ended, Forte came off the injured list to play in the pro bowl.

This was very much frowned upon by Bears management, but Forte did it at the encouragement of his agent. This was done for two reasons:

1. To show the Bears why they needed to give him a long-term contract.

2. To show other teams he is a solid player when healthy in case he did test the free agent waters.

Initial negotiatons went nowhere, both sides could not agree. But this is usually the case when contract talks begin. Then in March the Bears made huge offseason moves. Aside from the Brandon Marshall trade, and the Jason Campbell acqusition, the Bears signed another running back much to the dismay of both Forte and Marion Barber. The signing of Michael Bush outraged Matt Forte, and at the same time caused Marion Barber announce his retirement.

The Bears insisted that Michael Bush was not a replacement, he was just a piece to the puzzle. Complicating matters was when the Bears officially placed the franchise tag on Matt Forte. This postponed negotiations for several weeks. Forte says the Bears were looking to replace him with these manuvers, the Bears say that was not the case. And while I did support Forte’s desire for a new contract, I also believed the Bears front office.

I think that the Bears placed the franchise label on Forte so no other teams could sign him away. Smart move on the part of Ted Phillips and company, just try to convince Matt Forte of that. When Forte decided to no-show offseason workouts, mini-camps, etc…. The Bears decided to return to the bargaining table with a better offer. And after a few more months, a compromise was finally reached. The Bears paid Forte a very good amount of money without breaking the bank.

And Forte finally got his financial commitment from the Bears. So Forte will be back on the field, Bush will be the #2 and now the battle will be waged between Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen for the third spot. Forte is a very talented player. He’s pretty much an every down back, he grinds out yards, and he’s deadly in the passing game as both a receiver and blocker. But he does struggle in goalline and short yardage situations, this is where the Bears bring in Michael Bush.

And then with Bell and Allen, both guys are speed demons. They can flat out run, but they will most likely be competing for a special teams spot. But at the moment that’s neither here nor there as practice has not yet begun. So Bears fans rejoice that Matt Forte will play another season {or 4) at Soldier Field.

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