Matt Forte wants everyone to know that his absence from this week's voluntary minicamp is not due to any perceived contract slight.
The star running back also wasn't present to receive recognition for winning the Bears' Brian Piccolo Award, which is given to a veteran and rookie each season who embodies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo. Forte did send a statement of gratitude for the award.
During the ceremony, owner George McCaskey downplayed Forte's absence.
"To me, it's like the guys deciding not to go to the draft," McCaskey said, per the Chicago Tribune. "That's an intensely personal decision and I think that decision should be respected."
McCaskey added that he's leaving Forte's situation in the hands of general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox.
In seven seasons in Chicago, Forte has been a workhorse and one of the most overlooked running backs in the NFL. He has compiled 7,704 rushing yards, 3,727 receiving yards and a combined 57 touchdowns.
Forte turns 30 in December, and the Bears could be reticent to give the running back a lengthy, expensive extension.