Most level-headed experts think there is little to expect from the Chicago Bears and Matt Forte besides a holdout and then a signing of the franchise tag. Then again, the NFL is never predictable. Could a deal happen and at what price?
Bears issues with Jay Cutler and Brian Urlacher might impact Forte deal
Everyone has focused on why Chicago hasn't just thrown money at Matt Forte to make sure he's locked up for the future. Some say it's his durability. As a running back, it's hard for teams in the modern NFL to fork over large contracts because such players never stay in their primes for long. Some are quick to point at the knee injury Forte suffered last season that scared the Bears into using the franchise tag and not meeting the demands of a player who has carried the offense since getting drafted in 2008. However, there are other reasons the front office can't afford to overpay Forte. Considering the team brought in Michael Bush as a backup gives the team depth and an able starter should Forte hold out. Another problem people haven't talked much about is that Jay Cutler and Brian Urlacher, the two faces of the Chicago Bears franchise, will both enter free agency in 2013 unless new deals get worked out. If GM Phil Emery pays too much to keep Forte, he risks not having enough money left to work out extensions for the two most important players on the team. That's why Chicago used the franchise tag. It leaves cap space open for next season when Cutler and Urlacher near free agency. So if the team faces Forte leaving, a last resort is trading him. So who would have interest, and what would the Bears want in return?
Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams have the need along with the ammo
At first glance several teams would love to have Forte on their roster, but few have the money and the tradable pieces that would interest Chicago. First reaction is a cross-division deal with the rival Detroit Lions, but the Bears are unlikely to send a Pro Bowl running back to a team already thick with offensive talent in the same division. That leaves two major players who could become hot spots as the season draws near. One team that has a need for more offensive firepower is the St. Louis Rams. Under new head coach Jeff Fisher the team has re-shaped the roster around third-year quarterback Sam Bradford. It hasn't drawn much favor from experts who still think the only credible weapon the team has is workhorse runner Steven Jackson. Set to turn 29 in July, Jackson has a history of injuries. The Rams need to give him help, and Forte is a perfect option until they find better receivers. Another player for offensive help is the Indianapolis Colts. With new quarterback Andrew Luck in place, the rebuilding franchise needs someone to take heat off him while he adjusts to the pros. Forte would do that, and help the team sell more tickets as they've struggled to do since Peyton Manning left. Either team has the draft picks to work a deal, something the Bears could use to start re-tooling their aging defense and suspect offensive line. The Colts also have a few veteran pass rushers Chicago could use in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
Matt Forte is a key piece to making the Chicago Bears offense special in 2012. In the event things don't work out, due to injury problems or the contracts of Brian Urlacher and Jay Cutler, a trade is not impossible. The Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams could easily find a home for him.