Matt Forte: ‘Extension Not Looking Good’

Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon could both be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. Or they might not. We don’t know yet.

But if you’re a betting man and the over/under is 1.5, you should probably take the under.

“People think it’s kind of a crapshoot in the first round whether a guy’s going to pan out or not,” Bears running back Matt Forte said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It kind of is. You can do so much evaluations and study these guys, but you never know if somebody’s going to pan out to be a great player, an average player or not be that good of a player at all. (Teams have) had so much success with (running backs) being really good players in the second and third (rounds), that it’s kind of become a trend to not take those guys in the first (round) and try to wait for them.”

Just like the Bears did with Forte in 2008. If Forte, the 44th overall pick that year, hasn’t been the best running back in the NFL since then, he’s definitely in the top two or three. He has 11,000+ total yards, six 1,000-yard rushing seasons and last year had a career-high 102 catches.

Which is why he’d like a contract extension – something he’s discussed with general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox.

“When Ryan Pace was first hired and Coach Fox was hired, I came in and talked to those guys,” Forte began. “I had a long sit-down with Ryan and we talked about a contract extension and stuff like that. Everybody thinks when you want a new deal that you’re asking for a bunch of more money. I was like, ‘Look, I know I’m 29 years old and it’s a cliche (to say) that . . . you don’t pay money (to) 29- and 30-year-old (running backs). You never pay those guys.’ I wasn’t looking to break the bank and do all that type of stuff. Actually, I was trying to see if we could do a contract extension to lower my cap number – because we have a pretty high cap number this year – and I’d be allowed to retire as a Chicago Bear and not be playing on a one-year deal. No player wants to play on a one-year deal because of the uncertainty of the future. You know how much people get injured in this sport. We all know that.

“We talked about it and they said they was going to put that on the shelf for now,” Forte continued. “I told Ryan that I had already planned to go to Florida and do some speed training and that was before our offseason schedule came out and that I would probably miss the first two weeks. But it’s not out of holding a grudge of being mad at the team and all this other stuff. A lot of people like to speculate. I told them that. We talked about it and he was like, ‘Yeah, that’s fine. We’ll see you when you get back. We can’t wait to get you in the building and work with the offense.’

“And so for me, it’s very simple. People like to report speculations and rumors and stuff like that. They don’t like to hear it from the horse’s mouth. I’m not mad. I’m not angry and trying to hold out and do all this other stuff. It’s pretty simple. The Bears hold all the cards. If they want to give me a contract extension and have me finish out my career as a Bear, they can do that. If they don’t want to and they want to say bye after this year – use me up and say bye – they can do that, too. It’s not really up to me.”

That outlook is honest. That outlook is mature.

It’s also, sadly, very frustrating.

“A deal like this could help,” Forte said. “It’s a win-win situation, really. I get a little bit of more guaranteed (money). A player playing at a high level should continue to be paid at that high level – no matter what his age is. And if his play declines, then you decline his pay. That’s how the leagues goes. It’s always been like that. It gives me a chance to lower the cap number and maybe we’re able to sign some other guys and get other people in, some more personnel. Everybody wins. I’m able to retire a Bear. It’s a Cinderella story, so to speak. But it hasn’t happened out that way as of yet. So we’ll see what happens. But it’s not looking (like that) right now.

“It’s just a shame,” Forte continued. “You see a guy who has put everything into it for the last seven years. Once you get to 29, they like to say these things. ‘He’s old. He’s got a lot of carries.’ If you’re playing seven years, you’re going to get a lot of carries, especially if you’re staring. In this league, you reward guys based off of production. If you’ve been producing, you reward those guys. But there seems to be some kind of different things that’s been going on with running backs somehow.”

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