Matt Forte expressed his frustration in not being able to land a long-term contract at just about every turn last season.
Now that he’s got the franchise tag from the Chicago Bears, he’s not saying a word about the situation. Forte, appearing at a cigar event Thursday night in Westmont, Ill., declined to take questions on the matter, not even hours after LeSean McCoy had cashed in with the Philadelphia Eagles. Forte’s agent Adisa Bakari also had no comment.
If Forte and the Bears cannot strike a multi-year deal before July 16 – and there is no evidence progress has been made – he will play for $7.742 million this season – a raise of more than $7.1 million over his 2011 salary. Bakari has been in town for a couple of days and wouldn’t say if his visit has included face-to-face meetings with general manager Phil Emery. Forte has not been present for any of the club’s voluntary offseason workout program.
But the back, who was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage when he went down with a knee injury in Week 13 last season, is optimistic about the offense under new coordinator Mike Tice. At times, former play caller Mike Martz would abandon the running game.
“I know coach Tice loves running the ball and I am a running back,” Forte said. “Just looking at when he came from Jacksonville and he had Maurice and Fred Taylor there, they ran the ball tremendously every year. I think we’ll probably incorporate something like that.”
Forte reported for training camp last summer following the lockout in top shape. He redefined his upper body and it paid off in a strong season. That’s evidence he has no problem working out on his own.
“I actually feel better than I did last year coming into camp,” he said. “Because last year during the lockout we kind of trained but we didn’t know what schedule we were on. It’s kind of like that. I found a trainer that basically does the same stuff up here (as one in Florida). It’s been very convenient for me to do the same type of training I do down south.”
We’ll see if a deal can get done before July 16.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune