Lessons from Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
5:48
PM ET
An irate Matt Forte lashed out at the Chicago Bears after the team signed Michael Bush to a four-year contract Thursday.

Forte has reason to be mad -- at the Bears, perhaps, but mostly at his predicament.

"There's only so many times a man that has done everything he's been asked to do can be disrespected!" Forte tweeted. "Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last ..."

Forte's situation illustrates how wise/fortunate Marshawn Lynch was to secure a long-term deal from the Seattle Seahawks before free agency. The free-agent market for running backs, safeties, inside linebackers and the like has been absolutely dead. As the NFL becomes more of a passing league, teams are building their rosters from the outside in, rewarding outside pass-rushers, cornerbacks and wide receivers.

Forte is panicking because he knows the guaranteed money allocated to Bush bites into the Bears' budget for the position. The team is now less likely to pay big money for Forte.

The deal Lynch signed reportedly featured $18 million in guarantees. If the Bears gave a similar deal to Forte, they would have roughly $25 million in guarantees tied up at running back, provided initial reports on Bush's deal are accurate. That seems unlikely to happen.

"Since drafting Matt in 2008, the Bears have signed Kevin Jones, Chester Taylor and Marion Barber, all ostensibly to serve as Matt's back-up," Forte's agent was quoted as saying. "To sign yet another running back, prior to completing a contract with Matt suggests disregard for Matt and his contributions to the Bears."

It also reflects the realities of the market for running backs. Special backs can still command lucrative deals, but very good ones are having a tougher time playing the leverage game.

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