Bears

Inside the Forte deal: The price was right

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Inside the Forte deal: The price was right

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.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.