It’s been an interesting two weeks across this sporting landscape. We celebrated that annual rite of spring, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (You didn’t think I was going to say Major League Baseball spring training, did you?)
The NFL calendar year started with a flurry of activity and big-dollar contracts. I’ll forgo the laundry list of signings and player movement for the moment (the 2012 NFL guide that I’ll produce for this site will do it well enough). The past few days have been all about Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow and speculation about Mark Sanchez’s ego.
On Thursday morning, it was announced that the Bears made another splash. They’d already traded for Brandon Marshall and signed Jason Campbell to back up Jay Cutler. They re-upped with Israel Idonije and Tim Jennings.
Master recruiter Cutler got his man on Thursday. He’d spoken openly about his desire to recruit free agent running back Michael Bush to Chicago. Bush had excelled as the replacement and, at times, complement to Darren McFadden in Oakland in the past few seasons. He signed a four-year, $14-million deal to join Chicago. Reportedly, a total of $7 million is guaranteed.
The courting of Bush garnered praise among fans and pundits. He amassed nearly 1,400 total yards with eight total touchdowns in 2011 and caught 37 passes. Bush is a strong goal-line performer, and his versatility keeps the playbook wide open. His arrival signals the end of Marion Barber’s brief Chicago career. (Fans are still muttering about his decision-making and short-yardage failures). Kahlil Bell, who ran well down the stretch, returns as the third option.
Most importantly, Bush’s signing offers the Bears insurance in the event that starter Matt Forte decides to hold out after getting the franchise tag or if another injury befalls him. Of course, they’re gone to the well in the past with Chester Taylor and Marion Barber. Both ranked among the NFL “stuffed” list, and that’s not a good thing.
Forte turned down a reported $13-$14 million in guaranteed money prior to the 2011 season after watching fellow running backs ink huge deals. The Bears, in turn, slapped the franchise tag on him for 2012. He’ll earn a reported $7.7 million this season.
Here are two excerpts from Forte’s foray into the Twitter-verse.
“for the record I’m not mad at the signing of another running back. This is 4th time that’s happened. I embrace competition as well as help”
Forte quickly followed up with …
“But as for not taking care of ur own and undervaluing a player under his market value is another story! #twitterrant”
I love the use of the #twitterrant hashtag. However, Chicago fans are divided about his decision to air his laundry in public. Twitter responses ranged from discussions about the turnstile nature of the running back position to the always mature “ur a baby.”