Let’s Make a Deal

The Chicago Bears are heading down the home stretch in their efforts to sign franchised running back Matt Forte to a contract extension.

Last week I wrote that the clock is ticking on Forte negotiations and a deadline of July 16 is looming large for a team that opens training camp July 25.

Opening camp without arguably the offense’s most valuable player aside from quarterback Jay Cutler would not be a complete disaster, but it would be a distraction to Forte’s teammates having to answer questions about his absence before and after every practice until he shows up.

However, late Thursday night a report  from CBS’ Jason LaConfora suggests the Bears and Forte have made significant inroads toward a compromise on a multi-year contract. This is the closest the two sides have been since Phil Emery took over as Bears GM following the firing of Jerry Angelo at the end of the 2011 season.

The biggest obstacle at this point is likely the amount of guaranteed money in the first few years of the deal.  Forte will look to get a significant cash bonus as the team looks to protect themselves in the back end of the deal when Forte will be over the dreaded age of 30.

An extension would eliminate the biggest distraction at Bears training camp in Bourbonnais later this month. As a result, the offense could focus on gelling new offensive coordinator Mike Tice’s and finding a way for Forte and free-agent signee Michael Bush to coexist in the backfield.

An extension would represent a significant momentum boost as the club looks to get back to the playoffs and cool the hot seat under coach Lovie Smith.

For the first time since negotiations began during the 2011 season, Bears fans should feel optimistic Forte signs on the dotted line prior to Monday’s deadline.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports fan, a college football fanatic, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10.  View his show’s website here.