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Who’s the real winner in Bears, Matt Forte agreement?

Who got better side deal—Bears or Matt Forte?  | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Who got the better side of the deal—the Bears or Matt Forte? | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Who got the better side of the deal?

Updated: July 16, 2012 5:12PM

On this day and at this moment, the only sure winner from the Matt Forte contract saga is you, the fan. On this day and at this moment, you get a healthy running back who should be able to help the Bears to a successful 2012.

But after that, who can really say? The team and Forte agreed to a four-year contract that Sun-Times writer Sean Jensen says is worth about $8 million a season. That reportedly includes about $18 million in guarantees. It means the Bears are throwing some decent coin at someone who is 26, an age that conventional wisdom says is often the beginning of a downward slide for running backs.

So there’s risk here, but a risk the Bears obviously had to take. They didn’t want to go through the 2012 season with Forte either sitting out or moping because of the $7.7 million franchise tag the team had applied to him. Now they’ll spend the foreseeable future hoping like hell he doesn’t get hurt. The good news is that Forte doesn’t have a significant history of injury. The bad news is that the constant pounding he’ll take as a running back won’t care a whole lot about his impressive injury history.

As for Forte, he gets the multiyear contract he had been politicking for since last season, but it’s certainly not the kind of money he wanted. He was hoping for something like the $30 million that Tennessee’s Chris Johnson got in guarantees last season. He was hoping in vain.

We’ll know soon enough if Forte is happy or upset with the deal. But it’s done, and in a league in which injury seems to be the only constant, that counts for a lot. He has a contract. If he runs wild the next two years, expect that contract to be a big deal again.

That’s for later. In the NFL, you live for today. And if you’re a Bears fan, today is good. The first practice of training camp is July 26. You have every reason to believe your team is going to be a contender in 2012. Having a Pro Bowl running back should only strengthen that belief.

For the Bears and Forte, there will be an undercurrent of emotion – for the Bears unease and for Forte perhaps a lingering feeling of not being unconditionally loved, in the way that Johnson and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson were loved by their teams at contract time.

Here’s hoping everybody can move forward at Halas Hall, and without incurring a knee injury. It’s time to play some football.

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