Bears running back Matt Forte has 7.7 million reasons to play this season.
And play he will. The fifth-year tailback confirmed it on Friday.
“I don’t think I really have a choice, do I?” Forte said at a charity event on Friday, via John Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com. “Yeah, I’ll be here.”
Forte technically can choose to stay away until the week before the regular-season opener and still get the full amount of his one-year franchise tender. But it sounds like he’ll show up earlier.
“I’m excited to get in there and talk to Mr. [Jeremy] Bates and get in there with Jay [Cutler] and see what he thinks about the passing game, and see how I can get involved in that, too,” Forte said.
Forte also is excited about the promotion of Mike Tice to offensive coordinator. “Coach Tice is a great coach and I’ve known that since he coached Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor down in Jacksonville with their running games,” Forte said. “When he got here, I knew it would be the same thing. To have him as coordinator now, it’s going to be something to watch. I’m excited about it.”
Per Greenberg, the usually dispassionate Forte eventually got annoyed with inquiries regarding his contract status. “Any other questions?” he eventually said.
The biggest remaining question is whether he’ll have the kind of impact in 2012 that will prompt the Bears to finally give him the long-term deal he has been seeking, or whether he’ll have 9.2 million reasons to play under the franchise tag in 2013.