Running back Matt Forte accused the Chicago Bears of happily grinding him "into a pulp" while refusing to hand him a new and improved contract.
Forte, the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage with 1,091, said his exertions deserved to put him on a par with the earnings of the game’s elite backs, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.
"The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field," Forte said. "Everyone acknowledges that. So to continue to give me the touches I’ve had since my rookie year but not award me a long-term contract sends the message that you’re OK grinding me into a pulp."
Forte, who will earn $600,000 this year, was offered a reported $6 million a year, with up to $14 million guaranteed, by the Bears during training camp — considerably lower than his high-performing peers.
Forte suggested the absence of a competitive contract extension could push him toward the exit door.
"I love the team, I love my teammates, I love the coaches and I love Chicago," he said. "But when management messes with you like that, it puts you in the mind frame of wanting to go to a team that desires you. You’re not going to be happy, let’s say that."
While accepting his bosses hold the leverage, Forte warned them against using the franchise tag on him in 2012.
"If they think by just slapping the franchise tag on me that’s going to silence anything, they’re sadly mistaken," he said. "That’s not going to cure everything. It’s not a solution, I would say."