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redeyechicago.com

Forte has to shut up and block

Steve Rosenbloom

The RosenBlog

9:32 AM CDT, August 8, 2011

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If a healthy Matt Forte sits out the opening exhibition game Saturday the way he has been talking, then the Bears have to fine him or maybe suspend him. Or maybe demote him.

The Bears’ starting tailback is worried about getting injured. Yes. Well. Football is a dangerous game. Didn’t you hear? It was in all the newspapers.

Forte wants more money. Forte has an existing contract. Negotiation is a dangerous game, too, one that Forte can’t win unless the Bears let him, similar to the way the Packers deal with the Bears.

No question, Forte was a big part of the offense last year -- a big part of a bad offense. He had a lot of carries, a lot of yards, a lot of catches last year. He has no leverage this year. Truth is truth.

Forte still has a contract. You could argue he has outplayed it. You could also argue he should’ve thought of that when he first negotiated it and found a way to include big incentives or shorten the deal to force new negotiations sooner.

Forte wants a new deal for big money, but this is a contract extension, not free agency. Forte can’t listen to offers from all over. He can listen only to the Bears, which beats listening only to the Chicago Park District, but the point is, this is not Olin Kreutz saying no thanks, then saying “Who Dat?’’ This is show up and shut up.

The Bears seem inclined to extend Forte -- “motivated’’ was Jerry Angelo’s word -- but at their price, their terms, their everything. That’s what you do with leverage. Even the Bears are smart enough not to get blackmailed by a player.

I understand why Forte wants to get paid. I understand why he especially wants guaranteed cash before Saturday. He plays a disposable position, and everybody knows it, a situation that can be described as life-threatening as the Bears get sentenced to another appearance at Soldier Field, where watering grass is a concept that apparently rivals splitting the atom.

Forte has played well and played hard and played a big role, but look, it’s role the Bears apparently believe can be filled by, oh, I don’t know, just to pull a name out of the air, Marion Barber.

Teams still aren’t married to players other than quarterbacks. Teams rent everybody else, starters and backups, just like before. That’s especially true of running backs. There is no such thing as a franchise running back. There is simply the next man up.

What’s more, in the fantasy world of the Martz du Soleil offense, the running part of running back is especially diminished, which means the running back’s leverage is diminished further still.

I don’t know who’s advising Forte, but somebody must have an idea that’s better than threatening to hold your breath until you turn blue.