One week is left for young running back Matt Forte and defensive end Cliff Avril to sign a long-term deal. Were the holdouts to get out of hand could the Chicago Bears actually deal with Detroit to exchange the two?
Detroit Lions have bigger needs at running back than defensive end
It sounds like a broken record but tough contract talks are just part of typical business in the NFL. Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith said it's like "pulling teeth." About as good an analogy to have if there was one. Two young stars who have learned this over the last few months are Bears running back Matt Forte and Lions defensive end Cliff Avril. Both are coming off a Pro Bowl season and want their contracts extended. The problem is Chicago and the Detroit Lions have different prices in mind. Now the deadline for getting a deal done is not far away. Each side has until July 16th to ink a new contract or Forte and Avril will have to play under their franchise tag contracts. Forte would make $7.7 million, a major raise from his $600,000 rookie contract. Avril will get even more at $10.6 million. The trouble is the two are in holdouts and history shows those can turn ugly and force teams to trade players before they become locker room problems. A more interesting question is would the two teams trade with each other.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery offer a new Bears future
The Chicago Bears are in the middle of an identity swing on offense. For decades their trademark was great running backs and game-control offense. New general manager Phil Emery seemingly threw that out the window the second he took over the front office. His two biggest additions to the team in the draft and free agency were wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Paired with quarterback Jay Cutler Chicago may have its first dangerous passing attack. Jeffery, a 6'3" man from South Carolina has already made it clear he's only interested in learning to become a pro, especially under the wing of the 6'4" Marshall. Few have asked the searching question of where Forte fits in this new offense. While fans and teammates want him back the Bears have a rare chance to sacrifice him for help in more pressing areas. That's where the Avril trade idea becomes interesting. Detroit hasn't had a running back anywhere close to Forte since Barry Sanders retired and having him would instantly take pressure off their star quarterback Matthew Stafford. By the same token Chicago would get a 25-year-old pass rusher in Avril. Together with rookie Shea McClellin the team has two building blocks for the future and the badly need help for All-Pro Julius Peppers.
Inter-division trades don't happen often but Matt Forte for Cliff Avril makes some sense for the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. Chicago has new plans for Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery while Detroit needs reliable talent in the backfield. The Lions have pass rushers to spare while the Bears sorely need them. Not an easy deal but one that could help both teams.