And just as it seemed his best options were gone, Raiders free agent running back Michael Bush chooses to sign with the Bears. The deal is 4 years, $14 million with $7 million guaranteed according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
In Chicago he will be a backup to Matt Forte just as he was in Oakland behind Darren McFadden. The difference is Forte is far more reliable which will leave far less carries for Bush. Then again, perhaps that is what he wants. He will be making borderline starter money and only have to carry the ball 10-15 times a game. There is a wildcard here, though.
The Bears situation with Matt Forte is tenuous. Forte has stuck by the Bears even though they continue to balk on giving him a long term deal. This will not go on much longer. In fact, Forte could decide he has had enough of the Bears not committing to him and hold out. Signing Bush to the team protects their interests. It also gives them some leverage should Forte as for more money than they are willing to pay.
This is the third year in a row the Bears have brought in a backup running back as insurance in case Forte holds out. The previous two, Chester Taylor and Marion Barber, didn't work out so well. If Bush performs as they did, his tenure in Chicago will be short as well.
Bush will make about $3.5 million per season which is not overly expensive but more than the penny pinching Raiders are willing to spend. Especially when you consider with the zone blocking scheme, they figure they can find a big back to perform on a high level either in the low rounds of the draft or on the free agent scrap heap. They may even think they already have their guy in either Lonyae Miller or Rashawn Jackson.
The Raiders will miss his production and dependability. He took over last season for Darren McFadden and ran for 977 yards with a heavy workload. With McFadden's injury history, Bush's presence in the offense was extremely valuable. The team will now look to second year running back Taiwan Jones to pick up the slack.