What's Matt Forte Worth? The Bears Don't Want to Pay Him Frank Gore or DeAngelo Williams Money

Here are some recent big contracts/extensions giving to NFL running backs:

Steven Jackson – 6 years, $44 million (August 2008)
Frank Gore – 3 years, $21 million, $13.5 million guaranteed (August 2011)
DeAngelo Williams – 5 years, $43 million $21 million guaranteed (July 2011)
Adrian Peterson – 7 years, $100 million, $36 million guaranteed (September 2011)
Chris Johnson – 6 years, $56 million, $30 million guaranteed (September 2011)

Based on those numbers, what would you guess Chicago’s Matt Forte is worth? There’s a good story by Sean Jensen of the Sun-Times today about the Bears low-balling Forte in the preseason. Chicago apparently offered the running back roughly $6 million a year with about $13-14 million guaranteed. That is a way of telling Forte (current salary: $600k) – we think you’re worth half of what AP/CJ are, and less than DeAngelo Williams.


Behind perhaps the weakest offensive line in football, Forte is among the best backs in the league through five games in 2011. He’s 6th in rushing yards, averaging 5.4 ypc, he leads RBs in receiving yards (345) and has 30 receptions, which is more than Calvin Johnson, Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, and Santonio Holmes (among others).

Forte was beastly as a rookie, and not as productive the following two seasons (but still good). He turns 27 in December, so he probably has 3-4 good seasons left. His agent would probably push for a 5-6 year deal, but the Bears, who are getting old defensive and still don’t have any talent at WR, are probably not going to want to do that. So do they apply the Franchise tag, or trade him, and make someone else give him the big bucks?

There aren’t any quality backs expected to hit free agency next year (unless you think Ray Rice or Peyton Hillis hit the market, which would be awesome for my Jets). It’s likely only going to be Forte and Arian Foster. As a Jets fan, I’d welcome Forte with open arms (if the price was right, obviously). The Jets will be losing their only pass-receiving threat out of the backfield (LT), and Greene has stone hands.

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