With tensions continuously rising between the Bears and running back Matt Forte, some have pondered the possibility of Forte taking a stand by standing up and walking out in the middle of the season. It’s a possibility that was raised earlier today, during my weekly visit with Dan McNeil and Matt Speigel of 670 the Score in Chicago.
It would be a bold move by Forte, who has yet to even hint at the possibility of leaving the team until he gets a new contract. If he does, the Bears would have several options for squeezing him into returning.
Although the new CBA provides for a daily fine of $30,000 for each day of a holdout, those fines apply only during training camp and the preseason. Once the season begins, a player may be fined up to $9,440 for each missed practice, meeting, curfew, scheduled appointment with a team trainer or physician, workout, weigh-in, meal, scheduled promotional activity, or material failure to follow injury rehab directions. Since multiple such activities can occur in a single day, multiple fines of up to $9,440 may be imposed — to a daily maximum of $27,000.
The Bears also could choose to suspend Forte up to four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. Of course, the Bears would be depriving them of Forte’s services by pursuing that option.
The team’s potential nuclear option would be launched by sending a so-called “five-day letter,” advising Forte that if he doesn’t return in five days he could be placed on the reserve/left squad list. Once given that designation, Forte would be unable to play again in 2011.
Forte obviously would also forfeit any game checks during his absence. At a base salary of $600,000, that’s $35,294 per week.
Finally, the Bears would have the ability to recover 25 percent of Forte’s signing bonus allocation for 2011. Given a $1.533 million signing bonus paid in 2008 and an annual allocation of $383,250, the Bears could collect $95,812 the minute Forte walks out the door.
As a result, it’s highly unlikely that Forte will walk. If he does, he’ll risk losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.