Every time a premier running back gets a contract done, the immediate reaction is to gauge its significance with respect to Matt Fortes visavis the Bears.
This time it is LeSean McCoy getting a five-year pact worked out with the Philadelphia Eagles, one that is set for 45 million overall but more important, 20.8 million guaranteed, according to the reporting of Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com.
Thats substantially more guaranteed and in total than the Bears have on the table for Forte. But it is unlikely that this alone moves the needle enough for a Forte deal.
McCoy ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,309 rushing yards last season and led the league with 17 rushing TDs. No other running back had more than 12; Forte had three and 997 yards in his slightly more than 11 games (he was injured early in game 12).
But working against Forte, who has been offered more than 13 million guaranteed, are the franchise tag option that the Bears have and exercised, guaranteeing Forte 7.7 million for the 2012 season.
The bigger issue, however, is that McCoy is 23 and heading into his fourth season. The Eagles can reasonably count on McCoy to be in place for the five years of his deal, or at least four, followed by an extension or restructuring to adjust a cap number and give him more cash.
Forte is 26, turning 27 in December. He is not attending the voluntary offseason program this week and is not expected to show up for the organized team activities beginning Monday. He has not signed his tender offer and is not under contract at this point.
His bargaining position is simply not as good as McCoys, and positionleverage is everything.
The reality of an impasse of this nature is that it is commonly broken when one side makes enough of a concession to allow the other to take the offer and not lose face for caving in.
The McCoy deal and its 20 million guaranteed doesnt obligate or pressure the Bears in any real way. But as the market is being further set, the Bears, who have taken typically good care of their own veterans who have been and are still expected to be major contributors.
That would be Forte. And if the Bears sweeten the deal just a little, that may get it done.