New Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery has a unique opportunity to succeed where Jerry Angelo failed by signing Matt Forte to a real deal worthy of his talent. While Angelo resisted negotiating with talent that clearly wanted to remain in Chicago, Emery may be the one to listen to reason and value his players and their worth to the team.
Matt Forte was one of the most underpaid players in all of the NFL last season . He commanded a paltry $550,000 base salary. While that is more than many of us could hope for in a living wage, for his profession and talent, Forte was seriously undervalued.
The running back earned a trip to the Pro Bowl this year, rushed for nearly 1,000 yards, and scored three touchdowns . That is pretty impressive for a player who hasn't broken the million mark in salary.
Forte has said repeatedly that he would love to stay with the team. He has made a home in Chicago, his wife is from here, and the Bears organization is highly-respected. Matt Forte has, however, made it clear that he would only accept the "franchise player" tag if it were to come along with a long-term deal. He stated in an interview that if there was no such deal , "if it's just to hold me another year and just, 'Let's throw some money at him right now to keep him quiet,' that's not going to solve anything."
Let's remember, Forte's base salary last year was roughly the same amount of money that Angelo was not willing to cough up to keep Olin Kreutz . Phil Emery's ability to negotiate with key players who want to stay with the team will be the key to how fans perceive him. Emery has stated that he will consider the franchise tag , and that the Bears do not want Forte on the market for another team to snatch up. While that is somewhat reassuring, Emery has not made mention of how long any deal offered would be for. If he thinks that he can hold on to Forte for a year or two, he may be on his way to repeating Jerry Angelo's mistakes. Either way, most fans will agree that he needs to do whatever it takes to keep Forte on the team.
Whitney Levon is a Chicago native whose dedication to the Bears goes back to her first football memory; the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl victory.