On the field, Matt Forte has been the Bears’ best player this season. Off the field, he has rarely missed an opportunity to complain about his contract.
Forte’s latest complaint is that the Bears seem willing to break down his body by making him a workhorse back, but they’re not willing to pay him like a workhorse back.
“The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field,” Forte told Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “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 into a pulp.”
Forte is right, in the sense that the Bears have no long-term investment in Forte and therefore aren’t thinking about keeping Forte healthy in the long term. What the Bears want is for Forte to help them win now, which is why they’ve given him 124 carries and 38 catches this year, which puts him on pace for 370 total touches this season.
But Forte also seems resigned to the fact that the Bears have more leverage than he does.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Forte said. “It’s up to them. They hold the contract extensions and the franchise tags in their hands. It’s kind of getting old right now. Every time you talk to somebody, ‘How come they’re not paying you, man?’ I have no idea. I feel like if it was anybody else on any other team, I think they would have rewarded their player.”
So far, all of Forte’s complaints don’t appear to be a distraction in the Bears’ locker room. But it can’t be good for any team to have its best player so unhappy. This has the potential to get ugly.