Today the Chicago Bears announced the signing of Michael Bush, formerly of the Raiders, who has been one of the best backup running backs in the NFL for several years now.
According to Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune, Bush was signed to a four-year contract worth $14 million, with $7 million guaranteed.
This gives the Bears one of the most potent and proven 1-2 backfield punches in the NFL with Bush and incumbent starter Matt Forte. You might think Forte would be happy about this improvement in the Bears’ backfield.
You’d be wrong.
Not long after the signing of Bush was announced, the following three tweets came out of Forte’s account. The first two are retweets; the third one, at the top, is Forte writing himself.
As everyone remembers from last year, Forte wants a new contract. Given his production, and the short shelf life of running backs, most folks think that the Bears should pay him. Greg Olsen, now a player for the Panthers but Forte’s former teammate in Chicago, obviously agrees. Undoubtedly, others will too.
But is this really a sign of disrespect? Perhaps it is. But the Bears undoubtedly improved their team by bringing in Bush, who is not that much less effective a runner than Forte and is certainly a great insurance policy to have. Certainly Bush is not the all-around back that Forte is, and certainly Bush has never proven himself over a full season in Chicago like Forte has, but I find it hard to quibble with the Bears signing Bush to a very reasonable contract.
Assuming, that is, that they ultimately pay Forte.
I don’t think they should overpay Forte. And paying running backs is tricky because most of them are essentially replaceable. But at some point you have to pay guys who perform for you, and Forte has earned a new deal with the Bears. So the Bush deal is great, but only if they can get something worked out with Forte (who, on the same token, needs to be reasonable with his demands, which it seems he is being).
What do you think? Should Forte be as upset as he seems to be? Was it smart to sign Bush before taking care of Forte? How would you handle this if you were the Bears?