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The Early Lead
Posted at 10:23 AM ET, 11/03/2011

Matt Forte is racking up yards for Bears at bargain basement price


Matt Forte has been the main attraction for Da Bears this season, but he’s not getting paid like it. (Paul Hackett - Reuters)
One of the NFL’s leading rushers is making noise about deserving a bigger contract. Where have we heard this one before?

But Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte has a good point.

Through seven games, Forte has already cracked 1,000 all-purpose yards for the season (672 rushing, 419 passing) and is on pace for 283 carries and a career high 87 receptions.

It’s a hefty workload for the 6-foot-2, 218-pounder from Tulane, and one that is drawing midseason accolades — Sports Illustrated’s Peter King named Forte his offensive player of the year at the midpoint of the season.

But the wear and tear that comes with so much use is bound to take a toll on Forte, and right now, he doesn’t feel he’s being compensated appropriately.

“The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field,” Forte said Tuesday. “Everyone acknowledges that. So to continue to give me the touches I’ve had since my rookie year but not award me a long-term contract sends the message that you’re OK grinding me to a pulp.”

Yikes. That last phrase will surely resonate with folks in the Windy City, but will it convince the Bears to give their franchise back a new deal?

Forte is making $555,000 this season and currently ranks sixth in the league in rushing yards. Now here’s what the five backs above him make: Adrian Peterson - $10.72 million, LeSean McCoy - $480,000, Maurice Jones-Drew - $4.05 million, Fred Jackson - $1.75 million, Frank Gore - $4.9 million.

Does Forte deserve a raise? It certainly looks like it. But the last running back to demand a fat new contract currently ranks 34th in the league in rushing with 302 yards and a measly 2.8 yards per carry average. (That would be Titans RB Chris Johnson and his $30 million guaranteed contract, in case you’ve already forgotten.)

Don’t expect the Bears to put anything on the table before season’s end, and don’t expect them to lighten Forte’s load either. When your you’re other option is letting Jay Cutler sling it around to a bunch of receivers who probably wouldn’t start on any playoff-bound team, grinding your multi-dimensional running back to a pulp doesn’t seem so bad.

Just ask Cutler, who had this to say when asked whether there is a better all-around back in the league than Forte.

“Nah, not even close. What he can do (on) first, second and third down in the passing game and the running game, inside and outside — if we lose him, we’ve got a lot of issues.”

(H/T Shutdown Corner)

By  |  10:23 AM ET, 11/03/2011

 
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