Dennis of Michigan asked during Tuesday's SportsNation chat if Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte had a right to be upset with the state of his long-term contract negotiations. My response remained the same as it has been for some time: It's hard to make a judgment without knowing the terms that have been exchanged. In full:
What we don't know is the exact value of what the Bears have offered, and what he's turned down. Has there been no agreement because the Bears haven't made him a serious offer? Or is it because he is seeking to be one of the top 2-3 highest-paid running backs in the game? We don't know that. I don't think Forte should be mad that the Bears have spent money on his backup unless they aren't offering him a fair deal. A fair deal, to me, would be something north of what the Seahawks paid Marshawn Lynch.
We might not know those terms, but ESPN analyst Andrew Brandt offers a glimpse into what would be a fair agreement based on current precedent and the state of the market. In his latest ESPN.com column, Brandt suggests there is a deal to be made if both sides agree to use the structure of a five-year, $43 million deal that DeAngelo Williams signed last summer with the Carolina Panthers. That deal includes $21 million in guarantees; Lynch received $18 million guaranteed over a four-year extension.
So using Brandt's analysis, we can say that Forte has a right to be upset if the Bears have come in south of Williams/Lynch money. But if he has rejected that deal, or something slightly higher, then it's possible he has overvalued himself in the market. As Brandt notes, the franchise tag the Bears used on Forte will make it difficult for him to achieve an elite-level running back contract like the one the Minnesota Vikings signed Adrian Peterson to last summer. That deal included $36 million in guarantees over seven years. Stay tuned.