BennettForteYes, it's true. The Bears signed Bennett to a new four-year deal Friday that could top out at $18 million, including $9 million guaranteed. Meanwhile, tailback Matt Forte continues to play on his original rookie contract while leading the NFL with 1,475 all-purpose yards.
The short answer is that these two situations are quite different. Bennett might be the Bears' best receiver at the moment but has been a part-time player for much of his career. He has made 19 career starts, has a total of 18 receptions this season and isn't likely to see a statistical explosion in the final month of 2011 for as long as quarterback Jay Cutler is sidelined. In that context, Bennett was probably much more motivated to take whatever the Bears offered than Forte would be.
In reality, the Bears offered Forte about $4 million more in guaranteed money than Bennett got. But for reasons that are understandable relative to the running back market, Forte hasn't been willing to accept $13 or $14 million in guarantees when some of the other top backs in the league have received more than double that total in recent months.
The Bears will have the opportunity to place the franchise tag on Forte this spring, limiting their incentive to commit to a massive long-term deal. And so it goes….