It seems clear, via Twitter, that Forte didn't take it well Thursday when the Bears signed tailback Michael Bush to a four-year contract worth $14 million, including $7 million guaranteed. Forte, who was named the Bears' franchise player this month in lieu of a long-term deal, dropped the dreaded "d" word.
Forte: "There's only so many times a man that has done everything he's been asked to do can be disrespected! Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last...."
*UPDATE: Forte's agent, Adisa Bakari, offered some context to the tweet in a statement to ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright. Bakari: "Since drafting Matt in 2008, the Bears have signed Kevin Jones, Chester Taylor and Marion Barber, all ostensibly to serve as Matt's backup. To sign yet another running back, prior to completing a contract with Matt suggests disregard for Matt and his contributions to the Bears."
Unfortunately, we don't have the full set of facts to render our own judgment. We know the Bears guaranteed Bush ($7 million) roughly the same amount as Forte would be paid ($7.74 million) as a franchise player this year. We also know the Bears have now issued multi-year deals to veteran backups in each of the past three years.
What we don't know, and it's a rather big piece of the puzzle, is what Forte has turned down. Negotiations have taken place on and off for more than a year. If the Bears were somehow offering Forte less, or about the same, as they have given Chester Taylor, Marion Barber and Bush, then Forte would have a legitimate argument.
But if Forte is upset because the Bears haven't offered him an elite contract that approaches, say, $25-$30 million in guarantees, then the Bush signing should have nothing to do with his angst. He might be upset with the Bears for not valuing him as an elite back, and could perhaps make an argument that he deserves that payday. But a market-level deal for a backup is a separate issue altogether.
As we all know, reason and rational thought don't always rule contract negotiations. What's important is that Forte is among the Bears' best players, one they have built their offense around in recent years, and he's not happy. That's a problem for the Bears, regardless of whether Forte's anger is well-grounded or unfounded.