On Thursday, the Chicago Bears signed free agent running back Michael Bush to a four-year deal.
On paper, it’s an absolutely brilliant signing, and spells the end for Marion Barber as a Bear. It gives the Bears a legitimate backup to Matt Forte in a league where two effective backs is essentially a priority.
But maybe someone should have said something to Forte first. The contract saga involving Forte and the Bears is well known. Jerry Angelo didn’t sign Forte to a new contract, despite his vocal displeasure over his lack of one. Phil Emery did reopen negotiations with Forte, but no deal has been reached.
After getting word of the Bush signing, Forte took to Twitter to display his frustrations with the Bears:
There's only so many times a man that has done everything he's been asked to do can be disrespected! Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last….
— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) March 22, 2012
Forte was on pace for his best numbers with the Bears before an injury against the Kansas City Chiefs ended his season. He racked up 997 yards on the ground and went for 490 through the air in the 12 games he did play.
Bush spent most of his season with the Oakland Raiders filling in for an injured Darren McFadden, posting numbers very similar to Forte. He had 977 yards on the ground, and seven touchdowns, and caught 37 passes for 418 yards with Oakland. Most figured he’d look for an opportunity to start, but settled on a four-year, $14 million deal with the Bears.
The signing is obviously a very good one for the Bears. It gives them one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. What it also does it take away some of the leverage from Matt Forte if he plans to hold out, given that Bush could be a starter, and Barber and Khalil Bell are still on the roster.
But you can understand Forte’s frustrations. It’s no secret that he wants a new deal to remain in Chicago, and maybe at least some sort of heads up for Forte would have been the way to go, especially with how the old GM helped to sour relations between the two sides.
Forte will wear the franchise tag for now, but I still think it’s a matter of time before Emery inks the All Pro to a new deal. After all the good he’s done this offseason, it’d be a shame to tarnish that by damaging the relationship between the Bears and their best running back since Walter Payton.