Forget about arguing over who won in the taffy pull between the Bears and running back Matt Forte.
The Bears four-year contract agreed to by Forte falls into that fuzzy good deal hopper on the basis that if both sides of a negotiation leave the table just a little grumpy because they didnt get what they wanted, its probably about right.
As expected, both sides budged off their guaranteed money. Forte wanted 20 million guaranteed, the Bears were holding in the range of 15 million. CSNChicago.com shared some weeks back that the key to the deal would be the Bears giving enough to let the Forte camp save face, and that would take about 17 million. That allowed both sides to rightly say that they had made a solid concession and the details proceeded from that point.
Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com breaks down all of the specifics down in exacting detail and a few of the elements warrant a closer look.
The entire pact can be worth just over 30 million if Forte achieves play-based goals in the final three years of the contract. Those represent a hedge by the Bears on a running back with mounting workload mileage.
If he continues to play with the durability hes exhibited through his first four seasons (only games missed last season because of game 12 knee injury), he could potentially make 2.4 million.
The issue wasnt concern over Fortes knees; if that were in fact a problem, the Bears would not have tagged Forte in the first place nor left their offer on the table. It was about a running back who would be in years 5-8 during this contract, when durability does become an issue.
The Bears were once scalded for lavishing a contract worth (potentially) 40 million on Devin Hester when he moved full-time to wide receiver. But the deals final two years became worth 10 million each only Hester reached performance targets on the level of a No. 1 receiver.
Hester didnt so the Bears werent out the money. But the player was given a contract structure that rewarded him for hitting targets.
Such is Fortes. His roster bonuses are devices normally in place to require roster decisions in advance of free agency in this case dont commit the Bears to anything that Forte doesnt earn by being on the field.
Fortes guaranteed money is basically what the Bears would have needed to franchise-tag Forte for this year and next. CSNChicago.com was told that a second tag was never in the plans but the tag amounts here factor into a deal longer than just the two year tags wouldve covered.
If Fortes production down-spirals, the Bears are not locked into guaranteed money in years three and four, but they have bought themselves options at 5.5 million for 2014 and 6.5 million in 2015.
The Bears, negotiator Cliff Stein and GMs Jerry Angelo and now Phil Emery have written deals without funny money in later years that no one expects to see. If Forte is playing at a high level, his contract pays him accordingly.
If hes not, theres always Michael Bush.