Already over 1,000 all-purpose yards on the year (672 rushing, 419 receiving), Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is getting quite the workload this season. And if you've seen any of that workload with your own eyes, you've seen signs, or heard commentators, or seen Forte himself reference the fact that he is being compensated relatively poorly for his performance.
And he thinks the Bears are just fine with paying him way below market value while using him up physically. From Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times:
''The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field,'' Forte said Tuesday. ''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.''
It's a harsh statement he's making, but I don't see anything untrue about it. Many times, that's what the NFL is -- players sacrificing their body and health, and organizations often paying them as little as they can. That's the business. It may not seem fair in every instance, but that's the system that's in place.
In any given year, most guys aren't paid what they're worth. In some cases, they got a huge bonus the year before, or they're playing with the expectation that their big payday is coming later. That's what Forte wants from the Bears -- at least an indication that they're going to pay him soon.
For our own amusement, let's put the irrelevant concept of "deserve" into the conversation. Does Forte deserve to be paid? He does. He's playing on his rookie contract and making $555,000 this season. For comparison's sake, Adrian Peterson is making almost $11 million, Darren McFadden is making over $7 million, Michael Turner is making $5 million and Maurice Jones-Drew is making over $4 million. Other running backs making more than Forte in 2011 include Danny Ware, Rock Cartwright and John Kuhn.
The last two big-name running backs to sign contracts were DeAngelo Williams and Chris Johnson, getting $21 million guaranteed and $30 million guaranteed, respectively. It could be argued that Forte's a better investment than either of those guys.
The Bears play their most effective football when Forte is their workhorse, or, in his words, they're "grinding him into a pulp." If that's what gets them wins, that's what they're going to do. If the Bears can work something out with him later, they'll be glad to, but if they don't, I doubt they're going to feel bad about how they used him.