Matt Forte says he’s setting up ‘lowering the boom fund’ for new RB helmet rule

Matt-Forte-BearsNFL owners voted on Wednesday to approve several rule changes, the most controversial of which is the league’s decision to prohibit offensive players from initiating contact with defensive players outside the tackle box by using the crown of their helmets. Running backs around the league are understandably upset with the change, as it will force many of them to completely alter their running style.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte has been one of the most outspoken players about the new rule. He has been tweeting about it all week long, and now that the helmet rule has passed Forte is basically saying he’s not going to follow it.

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Matt Forte drags 100-pound sled to show knees are fine (Video)

Matt Forte responded to questions about the condition of his knees by sharing the above video on Twitter Saturday of him dragging what he says is a 100-pound sled uphill. His agent also issued the following statement:

“Matt Forte is among the most, if not the most, durable, all-purpose running back in the NFL. The 2011 season was the first season of his career that he missed any games. Had the Bears been playoff contenders, he could have returned for the balance of the season. To question his durability at this stage in his career is absurd.”

The Chicago Tribune reported earlier in the day that the Bears are reluctant to sign Forte to a contract extension because of concerns that his problematic knees may become arthritic.

Forte tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2006, and sprained the MCL in the same knee in 2009. Last year, he missed the final four games of the season with a sprained MCL in his right knee.

Forte expressed frustration with the Bears all last season over the two sides’ inability to agree on a new deal. He was even more upset in March when the team signed running back Michael Bush.

The team assigned a franchise tag to Forte, which only means they would be committed to him for one season. Given the short amount of time running backs last in the NFL, it’s quite understandable why Forte is frustrated with the situation.

Matt Forte seemingly upset with Bears over Michael Bush signing

Prior to suffering a knee injury late in the season last year, Matt Forte was arguably the most valuable running back in the league. The Bears ran their entire offense through him, and he was one of the only pieces keeping them afloat. To Forte’s credit, he expressed some frustration with the team over his lack of contract discussions but remained relatively quiet and continued to work. When he suffered a season-ending knee injury, we were reminded of why players hate the franchise tag and hate playing out a contract year.

Back in October, Forte said he wasn’t looking forward to the Bears using the franchise tag on him. As soon as the offseason began, that’s exactly what they did. Then on Thursday, Chicago agreed to a four-year, $14 million deal with free agent Michael Bush. Judging by the tweet he sent out Thursday afternoon, it appears Forte is not pleased with the move.

As far as insurance policies are concerned, Bush is as good as it gets. When Darren McFadden went down last season, Bush quickly became one of the best backs in the league. If Forte holds out and refuses to sign the franchise tender, Bush can certainly shoulder the load. If Chicago can’t come to a long-term agreement with Forte and chooses to franchise tag him again next season, they still have Bush. Simply put, Forte has no leverage. I wouldn’t be thrilled about it either.

Matt Forte on Bears Using Franchise Tag: That’s a Cheap Way to Go Out

Running back Matt Forte is having the best season of his career. The fourth-year back has accrued nearly 1,100 yards through seven games this season. He’s on pace to nearly match Chris Johnson’s 2009 record season of 2,509 yards from scrimmage. Despite his success, he is in a difficult situation.

Forte is finishing his rookie contract (and only making $600,000 this year), and he and the team were unable to reach an agreement on an extension before the year. The Bears are likely to assign him the franchise tag after the season rather than give him a long-term deal. He wouldn’t be happy if that happened.

“It’s not something I’m looking forward to,” Forte said on Jim Rome Is Burning Friday. “I don’t want a one-year deal. I’m looking for a long-term extension. If they use the franchise tag, that’s kind of a cheap way to go out. That’s not what I’m looking forward to.

“I was drafted by Chicago. I want to stay there.”

Forte is going to be an unhappy person because getting slapped with the tag is a likely outcome. He reportedly turned down the Bears’ offer before the season, and is now balling out of control. His price is sky-rocketing, but Chicago is unlikely to pay him big money. Using the franchise tag gets Forte paid for one season and keeps him in Chicago. Players generally dislike it, but it’s a middle ground for teams that want to retain a player on a short-term basis.

As I’ve said before, I never thought Matt Forte was worth a big contract. This year he’s proving me wrong. But I would be reluctant to give him more than a one-year deal. However, he’s worth much more than $600,000 to the Bears, and they should compensate him accordingly this season.

Matt Forte Feels Unappreciated by the Bears, Not Worried About Getting Paid

The 3-3 Chicago Bears have struggled at times this season, but their running back has remained consistent. Matt Forte has essentially become the entire Chicago offense. Through only six games, he has racked up nearly 1,000 yards of total offense. When he has not been able to get into a rhythm on the ground, Forte becomes a huge part of the passing game. Despite his success, the Bears’ offensive weapon is making only $600,000 this season.

When faced with a similar situation, we all know what some of the game’s other top runners would do.  To his credit, Forte has not held out and has continued to work hard to earn a big pay day if he hits free agency at the end of the season.  That does not, however, mean he feels no hostility toward the team.

“I’m glad teams are interested,” Forte told the Chicago Tribune when discussing rumors that the Bears have been entertaining trade offers for him. “For me to be out here working as hard as I do and not have a contract extension, you kind of get that feeling of being unappreciated. I just hope that when this year is over and I play as well as I’ve been playing, that if the Bears don’t reward me with a contract, another team will.”

Situations like this can go one of two ways.  In Chris Johnson’s case, the Titans gave in.  When Randy Moss felt unappreciated by the Patriots, we all know how that turned out.  The difference between a guy like Forte and Moss is that Moss was already being paid megabucks but wanted more years on his deal.  Forte takes the field every game and gives 100 percent despite the fact that he has basically yet to be paid.  At this point it’s clear the Bears are either calling his bluff, or they don’t feel that Forte will be difficult to replace in the offseason. If he becomes frustrated enough to stop trying, 2011 could be over in a hurry for Chicago.

Helmet smack to Pro Football Talk for the story.