A walkout would be costly for Forte

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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.

57 responses to “A walkout would be costly for Forte

  1. Forte owes the overpaid Titans RB a knuckle sandwich. Can’t blame the bears for this. They are a rubbish ownership to treat him this way but who can blame them based on the total screw up by bud addams

  2. wow the players weren’t left any options for situations like this. that’s messed up.

  3. screw losing hundreds of thousands of dollars…… how about ruining my $50 fantasy team??

  4. Seriously? He should just take a knee on every handoff…

    By the way, that essentially what Chris Johnson is doing even after his big contract. I’m not so sure that was a good deal to anyone not named Chris Johnson…

  5. Walking out on a team in the middle of a season, while you’re STILL UNDER CONTRACT, will set a dangerous precedent.

    Forte can complain all he wants, but he agreed to this contract. He needs to live with it.

  6. I can’t believe he would actually walk out (and I really hope he doesn’t – my fantasy team is depending on him!), but honestly it isn’t all that crazy.

    He is so underpaid that it might be a worthwhile to forego a couple hundred thousand bucks, because he could cost himself 20X that amount, or more, if he were to get seriously injured during the last part of this season. What does he owe the Bears at this point?

    Usually I take the team’s side over the player in holdout situations (I’m a Pats fan, so defending the team is like second nature to me), but in this case the man is getting absolutely screwed. $600,000 base salary? He is a top-5 back. Its just wrong.

  7. Uh when did contracts become completely void upon a few weeks of solid play? PLAY OUT THE GD CONTRACT, then sign a new one! JHC

  8. Thanks Mike, great post. Nice to get some new details on the situation. I hope they can work somthing out soon.

    If he gets franchised for two years, isnt that about the same as the money he would have gotten guaranteed in the offer they made him before the season?

  9. If Forte is smart, he will play out his contract and vow ti never play for the bears again. Show the other 31 teams what they will be bidding on this summer.

    Or possibly next summer if he gets franchised

    Either way, Forte gets more yards in mire ways than Johnson ever could. And hell, Deangelo Williams got a big payday. Imagine what Forte could get when his time comes. Easily the highest paid back in the NFL.

    Another thing that helps Forte is that he has respect around the league. He’s not happy with his contract but he still plays under it. Johnson didn’t do that. Owners will pay Forte more than Johnson.

    Forte is a model for consistency. He shows up for work every day, puts forth 100% effort, and is extremely versatile. Play out your contract Forte. Then go elsewhere

  10. as a Bear’s fan, I’m so sick of this. He’ll get paid, either franchise or multi year. I wish had the problems that he has.

  11. Sorry, but I don’t think they HAVE to pay the man. People in Tennesee were saying the same thing, as well as in Carolina and look at how that turned out.

    RB’s production falls so fast and they are generally easy to replace. If the bears can get top production for a low price, all the power to them…

  12. He could always pull an Osi. Just say he has got a tender hamstring. Miss a game or two to prove a point, then go for a guarantee of no franchise tag or something of that nature.

  13. Unfortunate for Forte, but the Bears are probably playing this right. Running back is short term position, usually 3-5 productive years. There are very few Emmits and Walters out there. The Bears are better off franchising him next year and work on finding his replacement.

  14. Uh when did contracts become completely void upon a few weeks of solid play? PLAY OUT THE GD CONTRACT, then sign a new one! JHC

    1st season as a bears fan?

    Because I’m a Rams Fan and That Stud RB is grosely underpaid – he accounts for atleast 40% of your offense and has a for a few years now.

    By not agreeing to a contract extension,the bears are setting themselves up for failure..

    Go ahead and franchise tag him: He doesn’t have to sign a contract, he can’t go anywhere – but he will finally get paid. 110% of the top 5 RB’s in the league…. Which is exactly what bud adams is avoiding.

    They both need to get a deal and realize what an asset Forte is to their offense or risk losing him to another team, where he might actually be appreciated.

  15. It’d be crazy for Forte to risk tens of millions in guaranteed money to play for a few hundred thousand dollars.

    If it were me, I’d sit. Easy decision.

  16. He’s not worth the big money his stats are inflated due to the fact their other offensive players just plain suck he’s check down Charlie’s safety blankey

  17. The Bears are throwing a mountain of money at Forte and he’s gonna bitch? Walk out? Holy crap, just take the money and play out the season.
    OR, give it up and join working America. Yeah home-boy, see IF you can find a job.

  18. He is the complete package…why risk losing him? I think he is a top 3 RB. Pay him like one. This coming from a Lions fan. I would love to have him in Detroit!!!

  19. So YOU raised this idea, and now YOU write a piece on what it would mean…even though you state Forte has ” yet to even hint at the possibility of leaving the team.”

    You position this topic as a legit discussion with the “some have pondered” phrase in the beginning. Really? Some? Who else but you?

    “Some might think” the Steelers are gonna Ward because the other WRs had a good game against NE. “Some might say” that Rob Ryan is going to be fired tomorrow because of the horrible game last week, even though Jerry Jones has “yet to hint at the possibility.” Etc., etc., etc. Come on guys. If you want to be somewhere where people go for news, talk about NEWS. Don’t make up stories and then act like it’s a discussion.

  20. To those saying Forte should play out his contract, he will. But then the Bears will force the franchise tag on him when his contract is expired. They can franchise twice, use him up, and then let him go, never giving Forte a big money contract.

  21. I wouldn’t pay the man! RBs are officially notorious for getting paid and not performing. I would offer him a one year deal worth some money but the multi-year deals should be over for all RBs. Especially considering you can replace them easily enough. This is coming from a packer fan as well.

  22. Are you kidding me?! You’re implying that the Bears (a playoff hopeful team) might place their best offensive weapon on the reserve/left squad list just because they don’t want to pay him? There’s no personal grudge here. The Bears are making a smart business decision. This is a non story.

    Forte wants (and deserves) more money but the Bears are exercising their contractual right in seeing what Matt Forte can do during his agreed to tenure. Next year they’ll use the franchise tag on him and pay him like a top 5 running back to see if he can do it again. If that happens, he’ll get his monster deal.

    …now if the Patriots did this, it’d be called a power play. Give Jerry some credit.

  23. There are players all over the NFL that are in the same boat as Forte …… All of them (without an extension or a new contract) are taking the chance that they will miss a huge payday due to injury while still playing …… It’s a high-risk business …..

    Forte must be talking to L. Briggs too much ….. The more he complains the less his options will be in free agency after 2011 …… At the same time, a classier organization would have avoided this scrabble entirely before game 1 of the season ….. Hey, it’s da Bears ……

  24. I love Forte but all you guys on here are not seeing the full picture.

    1. Forte was offered a contract 15 which 13 was gauranteed. He turned it down which he has the power to do but do not say they are not trying to pay me. Get off of every radio station and tv station. It makes you look bad and a bad teammate.

    2. Briggs pulled the same stunts signed the franchise. Still resigned with the bears and whats a new deal with three years left.

    3. If the Bears are so badly ran why are they always in the hunt for the playoffs. They resign most of their draft pick to their second contract. Tillman,Briggs,Urlacher,Roach,Tonea,Adams,Idonije are defensive starters alone who have gotten extensions. Not including players like Alex Brown and Tommie Harris.Cutler,Kruetz,Hester,Robbie Gould and so on. They have a history of resigning their players they will work out with Forte.

    4. Forte his agent and Jerry Angerlo agreed to wait until the season was over. Forte said it his self. So if you agree to wait until the season is over why are you crying

  25. He will have to play. Watch how much money Hillis will lose pulling his non sense. There are many players not making what they should. With a short off season alot of teams to not like to do contracts in the middle of the season.

  26. str82dvd says: Nov 2, 2011 11:03 PM

    Uh when did contracts become completely void upon a few weeks of solid play? PLAY OUT THE GD CONTRACT, then sign a new one! JHC
    A few weeks? Forte has been the only reliable part of their offense for a few years now. As for the sanctity of contracts, why is it only supposed to be the case when it comes to the players? Owners cut players and force them to take pay cuts in order to stay on the roster all the time. The people saying that Forte should be bound by the contract because he signed it apparently don’t realize how things work. Forte is still on his rookie contract, and the system is designed so that rookies really have very little say in what those contracts look like. It’s not like Forte had the chance to go from team to team and negotiate the best deal he could find. Yes, the structure of the contracts gives the owners the power to do what they do, but:
    1. That’s part of the problem.
    2. Contracts only give teams the sole rights to a player’s services, they can’t compel the player to provide those services. Fining someone for not showing up is pointless if a player decides to never show up, as they’ll have no football salary to deduct the fines from.

    Having said that, holding out in the middle of the season is a bad move. If he really wanted to stick it to management he could simply “develop a nagging injury” that limited his ability to play. It keeps him on the roster, avoids any fines, and reminds them what their offense is like if they can’t count on the kind of performance the team gets out of Forte week in and week out.

    For some players, the franchise tag is great. For Forte, it could kill his career. Yes it’s a nice payday, and yes the money is guaranteed, but it’s only a one year contract. Using the franchise tag on Forte would allow the Bears to run him into the ground, and dump him as soon as his body has taken too much abuse. So, after year of carrying the offense, Forte could be run out of the game without ever having got a big contract.

  27. I just love coming here and reading all these posts about working to the end of the contract you signed….blah blah blah.

    Can you name me one team….just one team who has paid a player his full contract when he hasn’t performed? How about injury?

    Do any of you believe Peyton Manning will see every last penny of his contract? NO!

    It goes both ways guys….teams should live with it as well.

  28. Personally, I don’t care what he gets paid, that’s between him and the team, but if it doesn’t get resolved and it affects how the team then.. then, as a fan, I do care. Just come to an agreement on what is fair. Obviously, the current pay is way below market.. and for all those guys saying play out the contract – If you had a career that doesn’t even last ten years I think you would be looking to get paid a wage that is comparable with your peers before your career is over.

  29. The protections are all team oriented. A player can sit out though, “ouch, my back pocket (hammy) hurts coach, i can’t go!!” Contracts are always back loaded and a team can and will let a player go anytime for any reason. Thats why players want Guaranteed money.

  30. I haven’t seen any negative comments by forte or the bears. This is a totally made up premise with no real basis. Forte is a stand up guy and he isn’t walking out on his team during the season.

  31. I love contracts disputes.

    “I signed a 3 year contract and thought I was going to suck, but now I am doing what you paid me to do, so can I have more ducketts please.”

  32. @beretta96d

    THANK YOU. one of the few rational, intelligent commenters here.

    Few people see the irony of fans b*tching about players b*tching about their contracts.

    If any fan were in Matt Forte’s position, they would be crying a frickin’ river. It’s just that the average fan will NEVER be in a position to demand a multi-million dollar raise at their job. Their whiny comments are pointless, and they should shut the eff up.

  33. Time to fake injuries. He will end up being the next Ladanian Tomlinson if he doesn’t. He’s on pace for almost 400 touches this year. No human body can stand that punishment for an extended amount of time. And NFL teams know it. He’s getting jerked in every possible way.

  34. It would be career suicide. He’d be viewed as a money hungry quitter by coaches, GMs, and his peers.

    There is getting paid and there is quitting on your team. That won’t be viewed positively.

  35. jdmcmill says: “I signed a 3 year contract and thought I was going to suck, but now I am doing what you paid me to do, so can I have more ducketts please.”

    No. If he sucked they’d cut him. The 3 year “contract” is worthless from a player’s perspective.

    He’s within his rights to sit out and protect himself (literally and figuratively) until someone pays him what the market dictates. He just has to be willing to give up a few hundred thousand dollars.

    He’d be doing nothing “wrong” except asserting the same type of leverage that teams often do.

  36. You guys realize it wasn’t the CJ2.5 contract that helped fuel this? It was the paper for DeAngelo Williams, then Frank Gore.

  37. I fully agree that Forte should be paid more but if he were to walk out on the team during the season he would lose any support he had from teamates and fans

  38. I’m starting to wonder how much of this is actually brought up by Forte. I could see this being the media saying “don’t you think you should be paid more?” every chance they get to speak with him and Forte just answering honestly.

    It just seems weird to not hold out, agree to hold off contract talks for the season, then whine about your contract every chance you get.

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