Lovie Smith has heard all about star running back Matt Forte's displeasure with the Chicago Bears signing running back Michael Bush. Smith doesn't sound too worried about it. (Although Smith doesn't ever sound too worried publicly. Or emote.)
"Right now, Matt Forte the football player has a problem with our organization. It's not about one person," Smith said Wednesday morning at the NFL Annual Meeting.
It's about the Bears, who have built one of the deepest backfields in the league. Bush is a great backup, and Kahlil Bell is one of the most promising No. 3 backs in the league. That gives the Bears great leverage in contract talks with Forte.
"I felt comfortable with Kahlil in the No. 2 role. But, it's about the strength in numbers," Smith said.
Those numbers include Forte's possible salary for 2012. The Bears are happy to pay him a salary as a franchise tag player. It makes sense from their perspective to go year-to-year at the game's most fungible position. Forte will have to lower his demands to get a long-term deal.
In the meantime, the Bears can survive a long, contentious holdout because they have depth at the position.