LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Matt Forte hoped to have a contract extension. Instead, he's still waiting for his big payday.
Forte said Wednesday he's "disappointed" he wasn't able to get an extension from the Chicago Bears, and with talks shelved for now, it seems unlikely he will get one anytime soon.
Instead, there's a good chance he will play out the fourth and final year of his rookie contract after failing to reach an agreement, something he hoped would get done before the opener this week against Atlanta.
"Yeah, it's a little surprising," he said. "I'm disappointed that it wasn't. Like I said, coming in to the league, you feel like this is supposed to be production-based. And when you produce in the offense, you expect the team or the organization to actually notice that compared to other guys. We just couldn't meet in the middle."
He also disputed the notion that both sides had agreed to table the talks, saying he is still open to negotiating.
That goes against what general manager Jerry Angelo said earlier in the week, when he told WBBM-AM in Chicago that the decision was mutual, although he wasn't completely slamming the door on the possibility of reaching an agreement by the end of the season.
"He said that? I didn't say that, so I guess it wasn't mutual," Forte said. "But that was his decision. I can't really decide if we continue to talk or not. He's the one we talk to. The door's always open on my end."
Forte wasn't the only high-profile Bears player seeking a new deal.
Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs has said he wants to be traded if the organization won't renegotiate his six-year, $36 million contract, and with three seasons left, management clearly is not budging.
Forte's situation is different, though.
If they don't agree to a deal before the end of the season, he could test the market. The Bears could also slap him with the franchise-player tag.
Fifth in the NFL with 4,731 yards from scrimmage since he entered the league, he had considered holding out at the start of training camp but decided against it. He was reportedly offered a deal that guaranteed about $13 million or $14 million, but he could be looking for something closer to the five-year, $43 million contract with $21 million guaranteed that Carolina gave DeAngelo Williams.
"I'm not going to get into the specifics about it," he said. "It's just (that) we couldn't meet in the middle."
Forte has "no regrets" about showing up for camp on time rather than holding out.
"I handle it like I always do," he said. "I'm a professional. This is the National Football League, and that's what I was going to do -- come in and be professional about it, which is come into camp work hard every day, get ready for the season. It's unfortunate that the contract situation, I did not get a contract extension, but I have no regrets about what I've done."
Quarterback Jay Cutler expects nothing less from Forte than to handle the situation professionally.
"He handles himself well," Cutler said. "He knows what it's all about. At the end of the day, he goes out and has a great year, he's going to get probably more money than he was going to get before."
Forte is coming off a solid season in which he joined Walter Payton as the only Bears players to finish with at least 1,000 yards rushing and 500 receiving.
He ran for 1,069, averaging a career-high 4.5 per carry, and tied for the team lead with 51 receptions for 547 yards, but he plays a high-risk position.
There's a reason running backs generally have shorter shelf lives, and an injury this season would make any team think twice about giving Forte a big deal.
So it's easy to see why he doesn't want to wait even if he said this about the risk of going down: "You can't go out there worried about that."
It's also not hard to see why the Bears were at least willing to listen, given the way he has performed for them and that his price could go up if he has another good year.
Angelo said early in training camp that they were "motivated," that it was their "intent" to get an extension for Forte, but he didn't set any timetables or make any guarantees.
"I don't think he lied," Forte said. "We tried to get a deal done. It was just, maybe they have a different view of the type of player I am than the type of player that they think I am."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press