On the deadline to lock up your franchise player, Matt Forte signs a four year deal and should solidify the Bears offense this season. With Jay Cutler being reunited with WR Brandon Marshall, this could be the best offense the Windy City has seen in years. Forte is a space runner and flourishes on screens and draws. He should project out to 2,200 yards from scrimmage if this offense can hit the field healthy this season.
At 26, a four year deal was good for both Forte and the Bears organization. Teams are reluctant to pay running backs as they near 30 years of age and the Bears should have a succession in place by then. Forte has been a solid player who looks like he has many years left. He’s a slippery runner who rarely takes the solid hit. Compare this with the reluctance the Baltimore Ravens are taking with Ray Rice. Each runner was franchised but there is a growing suspicion that Rice may be on the verge of wearing down from a heavy sustained workload. He also takes a lot more solid hits than Forte and it may show up shortly. Rice still hasn’t signed his tenure and wants a longer deal like Forte.
Brandon Marshall and Forte need each other for this to work. If teams are keeping their safeties back and outside linebacker to Marshall’s side watching for outs, hooks and slants, Forte will have more space to operate than ever before. The NFC North is weak when it comes to outside linebacker play as well. Whether rushing or receiving this is going to open up for the Bears beautifully.
As for the Bears as a franchise, remember the sentiment that Michael McCaskey was handicapping his team with offseason inactivity?? You can lay that claim to rest. The trading for QB Jay Cutler, signing big time free agent Julius Peppers a few seasons back, then bringing in Marshall from Miami for cheap. The Bears front office deserves some credit for not overspending and finding players for specific points. They’ve kept the nucleus of the team together (Lance Briggs withstanding) while becoming a player in free agency. In reality the current roster has about a 4 year window to reach the Super Bowl. The aforementioned players and those of Devin Hester, Urlacher, “Peanut” Tillman are all in their prime. Do they have enough to cool down the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers??
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