Franchised Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte has not his signed his one-year tender and skipped the team's offseason workout, including the OTAs and minicamp. Though there have been no reports of any movement in talks between the two sides, the more visible members of the organization do not seem to think that Forte will be absent when training camp opens at the end of July.
Last week, quarterback Jay Cutler said he'd be "shocked" if Forte doesn't sign his $7.742 million tender in time for training camp. On Thursday, head coach Love Smith sounded as if he expected Forte to be there when camp opens.
"Can't wait to get down to training camp, to get a few more of our guys back out there in the mix," Smith said, via John Mullin of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. "Brian Urlacher, get Matt Forte back out there, those guys."
The Bears and Forte's agent (Adisa Bakari) have until July 16 to reach an extension, otherwise Forte will either earn $7.742 million in fully guaranteed base salary or nothing if he holds out. Forte could always skip training camp, but after earning $600,000 total in 2011, he's unlikely to pass up on weekly checks worth $455,412 under the franchise tag. Perhaps that's why Smith understands Forte using the offseason to address his contract, while also expecting him to be there when the time for that has passed.
"The offseason is the time, if you have an issue with your contract, to take care of that," Smith said on Thursday, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. "This is the offseason. That is how I have looked at it. Matt isn't here right now. He'll take care of his contract situation in time. We can't wait to get him back on the football field."