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posted: 3/25/2012 10:49 PM

Compromise the only fix for Forte, Bears

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There's a simple solution to Matt Forte's contract impasse, but first let's talk about why the issue made headlines last week.

The reason is that if it's March, the compelling sports subject around here must be

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The NCAA Tournament? No. The Bulls' and Blackhawks' run to the playoffs? No. The Cubs and White Sox approaching Opening Day? No.

The Bears belched?

Yes, Da Bears!

Actually, if it's late March or mid-May or early July, the compelling subject around here must be the Bears.

If it's at noon or midnight or early morning or late afternoon or the breakfast table or lunchroom or suppertime, the compelling subject must be the Bears.

Yes, folks, it's Bears, Bears, Bears around here, all day, every day, 25 hours a day, 40 days a month, 15 months a year, 20 years a decade.

So when the Bears added a second-string running back last week, a brush fire immediately flared into a wildfire. Forte, the Bears' starter at the position, groused that the Michael Bush signing is another sign that the Bears don't respect him.

Boo-freaking-hoo.

So what else is new? Nothing, but it does give fans here another reason to anguish.

Look, Forte is going to play for the Bears next season despite being unhappy with his franchise-tagged contract calling for a mere $7.7 million.

OK, now for the obvious compromise: Forte agrees to not hold out this year and the Bears agree to not franchise him again next year.

The dispute isn't about this season. It's about the following season and whether Forte can become a free agent.

A good guess is this compromise will be struck sometime early in training camp after a few more months of obligatory negotiating, sniping and news bulletins.

Forte can't afford to pay the daily fine for not showing up to work, and the Bears can't afford to have a disgruntled Pro Bowl running back in the locker room.

My plan works for both sides. The Bears benefit because Forte will play hard in anticipation of free agency. He benefits because the Bears will be motivated to increase the guaranteed money in a multiyear deal if they want to keep him.

Each side has to understand that two of the NFL commodities currently in great supply are money and running backs. Forte will find another team willing to pay his price if the Bears won't, and the Bears will find another featured back if Forte won't accept the price they're willing to pay him.

Neither side is at fault. This is just sports in the modern era. These people are just trying to support their respective families -- he the Fortes and they the McCaskeys.

Matt Forte's grouchiness last week left him open to charges he's a bad teammate, if that's possible in March when teammates are lounging in Hawaii, Aruba and the South of France.

Meanwhile, the Bears are open to charges they're underpaying a valuable player, if $7.7 million ever could be a lowball salary when in the real world it would feed a village for a lifetime.

It just makes sense for Forte to surrender the option to hold out and for the Bears to surrender the option to hold him hostage for another year.

Once this is settled, we all can proceed to more serious issues like whether paying Brandon Marshall's bail would count against the Bears' salary cap.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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