The best part of the Super Bowl is the week before it. Not the peripheral events, but the time to connect with some key individuals in the game. Thats where you learn things.
NBC cousin Peggy Kusinski over at WMAQ reported last week that running back Matt Forte was going to meet with Phil Emery this week. Forte has been professing some optimism about getting his contract impasse solved with someone other than Jerry Angelos hand on the tiller.
Dont count on it. Emery knows why theres a franchise tag (a players concession in negotiations to owners so a central figure could be retained, at a nice price) and Angelo wasnt being capricious or personal in the offer the Bears had to Forte back before training camp. A deal of that magnitude had buy-in from Ted Phillips and Cliff Stein, both in their same posts now, and Emery has struck no one as a soft touch.
And Emery was with a Kansas City Chiefs organization that set a price point with Jamaal Charles deal prior to last season. He also saw how that investment can net nothing because of an injury.
New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins told me last week that he strongly advised against holding out because of the tag. Its simply too much money (nearly 8 million in Fortes case). And Mankins knows of what he speaks, having been an unhappy franchise tag-ee not that long ago.
If the Bears decide to bump up substantially the bid for a franchise running back, though, perhaps they would also be looking outside the (tackle) box. If the decision was that the organization was willing to put 20 million guaranteed for a running back, would Forte be the call?
Or would they look at Ray Rice, for example? The Baltimore Ravens are no more likely to let Rice hit the free market than the Bears are with Forte. But Rices numbers through four years are a step up from Fortes, both receiving and rushing, and scoring. And Rice is a year younger than Forte.
Best guess is that something like that never happens. Rice has stated a wish to remain a Raven, but thats also pretty standard rhetoric; Forte says the same about remaining a Bear.
But for the money involved, the mistake would be not thinking outside all boxes.