The Bears start their offseason workout program on Monday and there’s not much chance running back Matt Forte will be there.
Forte wants a long-term deal and hasn’t signed the $7.7 million franchise tender the Bears placed on him before the start of free agency. Since then he has expressed displeasure with the contract the team gave to free agent running back Michael Bush and the team has said that their offer for a new contract remains on the table for Forte to sign whenever he sees fit.
That sounds like a recipe for a protracted standoff as does a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN on SportsCenter Wednesday. Schefter reports that Forte “is not signing anything until he has a long-term deal” and that he won’t be in Chicago until he signs that deal. Things could change once the deadline for signing franchise tags gets closer, but that isn’t until July 15th which means that Forte would miss the team’s full offseason workout schedule as well as their mandatory minicamp in June.
The Bears seem pretty well resigned to that pace of things. Both Jay Cutler and Lovie Smith addressed Forte’s status on Tuesday and neither one sounds like they expect to see Forte anytime soon.
“The word is that he’s not going to be [there], but that’s just rumors,” Cutler said on WMVP Radio, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “I know it’s going to be hard for Matt to not be there. I think he’s pretty disappointed at how things have gone. But it’s a business for both sides. The Bears have to do what’s best for them in the long run. Matt has to do what’s best for him in the long run.”
“I tell the guys, if you have an issue with your contract, [the offseason] is the time to work on those things. That’s what Matt is going through right now,” Smith said before a luncheon on Tuesday. “We start up Monday. Hopefully he’ll be there. If he’s not, we’re going to go to work with the players we have.”
With both sides appearing to be firmly set in their stances, it seems like Forte won’t be one of those players for quite a while.