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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Mailbag: Impact of Gore deal on Matt Forte

By Kevin Seifert

Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers is the latest NFL running back to receive a contract extension. Around here, many of you are wondering if Gore's deal will speed up or slow down negotiations between Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears. Chris of Chicago wrote:
With Matt Forte's numbers being somewhat similar to Frank Gore (Forte might get about 200 yards more per season through receiving yards), what does this say about the kind of contract he will receive? Gore was given a three-year, $21 million extension. It certainly isn't the kind of money DeAngelo Williams received from Carolina (five years, $43 million). Does Forte get more than Williams or does Gore's rate put Forte somewhere in between?

My first-blush reaction is that Gore's deal won't undercut Forte's position. As the chart shows, Gore is three years older and has almost 700 more touches than Forte in his career. In running back terms, those numbers are huge discrepancies.

Negotiations for running backs are more often based on the potential for future contributions, rather than past production. That's why, from a durability and body-age standpoint, Forte aligns much closer with Williams -- whose deal included $21 million guaranteed. (Gore got $13.5 million guaranteed.)

The one advantage Williams had over Forte is that his contract had expired and he was set to enter the free agent market. Forte has a year remaining on his deal, and teams normally expect some sort of discount if they extend a deal before its natural conclusion. Forte's eventual agreement could technically fall between the numbers of Gore and Williams, but I'm guessing it will be a lot closer to the latter than it is to the former.

(Hat tip to NFC West colleague Mike Sando for providing the chart template.)