When it comes to a player talking about another player’s contractual situation, the smartest move is not to.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler opted for something less than smart on Friday, when Cutler said he’d be “shocked” (and possibly perplexed) if running back Matt Forte doesn’t sign his $7.7 million franchise tender by the middle of next month.
“I would be shocked if he doesn’t sign his tender by July 15, or whenever it is, and he shows up. It would really be a surprise to me,” Cutler said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “At the end of the day, I think Matt knows it’s business. He’s still getting seven-whatever-million dollars to play this year. So he’s gonna show up.”
For starters, Cutler doesn’t understand how the franchise tag business works. July 15 (this year, July 16 because July 15 falls on a Sunday) is the deadline for signing a franchise-tagged player to a long-term deal. Forte can still sign his franchise tender after July 16 and still get his “seven-whatever million dollars” from the Bears.
Actually, Forte can stay away from all of training camp and all of the preseason and sign the franchise tender days before the start of the regular season and get his full “seven-whatever million dollars.” And if the Bears don’t give him the long-term deal that he wants by July 16, staying away until the last minute is the smart play, because it keeps Forte from being exposed to injury during training camp or the preseason.
Even if Cutler knew what he was talking about, he shouldn’t be talking. Forte is trying to use the leverage of withheld services to get a long-term deal. Cutler’s comments undermine Forte’s leverage.
And in turn Cutler’s comments possibly undermine the relationship between Cutler and Forte.
Given Forte’s uncanny ability to speak candidly without being disrespectful, don’t be shocked (or perplexed) if someone asks Forte about Cutler’s comments. And don’t be shocked (or perplexed) if Forte expresses his disappointment, bluntly yet tactfully.