Bennett, Forte using different strategies in quest for Bears money


Bennett, Forte using different strategies in quest for Bears money

Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte want pretty much the same thing, pretty much what every NFL player wants, and for that matter, pretty much what anybody working anywhere wants:

More money.

But the Bears tight end and running back are going about making that demand in diametrically opposite ways. And if Bears history is any indicator, it’s unlikely that both methods will work get what they want in the form of a new contract this offseason with new money, from the Bears or anyone else.

Forte is entering the final year of the four-year contract he signed in the 2012 offseason. Forte did not attend the voluntary veterans minicamp or the offseason program but was on hand Wednesday for the start of the team’s organized team activities.

Bennett also signed a four-year deal, in 2013, and has two years remaining on the contract, which currently projects to pay him $10 million over the next two seasons.

But Bennett has yet to attend a Bears practice or workout, looking to induce the Bears to either tear up the contract or trade him to a team that will.

[MORE: George McCaskey won't lose confidence in Ryan Pace in Ray McDonald aftermath]

The big difference

One significant difference between Bennett and Forte is that Forte wants to remain a Chicago Bear. Bennett, not necessarily so.

“You've got to be patient in these type of thing and nobody's going to force anybody's hand on either side, so you just have to be patient,” Forte said, recalling his own at-times-tense contract process that saw the Bears use their franchise tag to buy time for negotiations.

”The situation a couple years ago was being vastly underpaid; that's not the situation now. It's more of this year is more of just like lowering the cap number and trying to continue my legacy as a Bear and trying to retire that way. It happens to be whatever shakes out, whatever they think.”

A casual guess at this point of the process is that Forte will get a year added to his contract, with some up-front money that goes with these kinds of transactions.

Bennett is creating an altogether different situation. He would like to be traded to a team promising new paper.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

The Thomas Jones saga

But holding out can completely sabotage that possibility, and has in one notable Bears case.

A decade ago the Bears signed running back Thomas Jones to a four-year deal worth $10 million and which was about twice the next best offer Jones had in 2004. Jones had a respectable season but not enough to dissuade the Bears from using the No. 4 pick of the 2005 draft on Cedric Benson to replace Jones. Jones responded to the job threat with the best season of his career to that point.

Jones, with two years still to go on his deal, then demanded a trade and refused to report for the offseason.

The Bears and GM Jerry Angelo in fact managed to work out a deal to an AFC team in need of a running back. But when that team’s personnel head learned that Jones was a holdout, he shot down the deal. Angelo eventually reached an agreement privately with Jones that if the running back gave the Bears a strong third season, Angelo would accommodate Jones’ wish. Jones rushed for 1,210 yards, the Bears reached the Super Bowl and Angelo honored his word and dealt Jones to the New York Jets.

The point, however, was that holding out can kill the other team’s interest in trading for a player who has established himself as a potential contract problem. Bennett played at a Pro Bowl level in 2014 and wants to be paid at a higher level, which is not unreasonable, just unlikely, at least by the Bears at this point. And GM Ryan Pace is in no hurry in his first year to be viewed as someone who caves to pressure when he holds the current leverage.

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.