NFL Wire News

Bears’ Forte at OTA, but still seeks new deal


The Sports Xchange

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is working with the team after missing the April non-mandatory minicamp and opting for speed training on his own.

Forte has no contract beyond this season and wants a new one, although the team isn’t talking to his agent at this time. He said he still plans to report for the start of camp in late July.

“They said we’re not talking about that type of stuff right now, so all I can do is play football,” Forte said about contract talks. “I’ve come to the realization that every run or catch that I make might be my last in a Bears uniform.

“So if they don’t want to re-sign me, I’ll have to play somewhere else then.”

Forte’s status changed since he had a similar standoff with the team in 2012 before signing a four-year, $32 million deal.

“The situation a couple years ago was being vastly underpaid; that’s not the situation now,” he said. “It’s more of this year is more just like lowering the cap number and trying to continue my legacy as a Bear and trying to retire that way.

“It happens to be whatever shakes out, whatever they think.”

Forte wants to remain with the team. He is the franchise’s second-leading rusher and has never had a season below 929 rushing yards.

“Nobody wants to play on a one-year deal, especially the uncertainty of how football is with how it goes,” he said. “You just figure like a guy who’s been there since Day 1, continues to put in hard work and has produced, you figure that that guy should be rewarded.

“But in this business, that doesn’t always happen.”

Forte believes the speed work that caused him to miss the April minicamp was valuable.

“I went to the same guy coming out for the combine,” he said. “My 40 time coming out of college was 4.5-something and I ended up running in the low 4.4s. So I used to go back a lot of times in the postseason every year. I missed last year, I didn’t go, and I felt the effects of my burst going through the holes and stuff like that, or just accelerating after catching the ball.

“So I went back and did that type of training and got a lot better. I got a benefit out of it.”

–Tight end Martellus Bennett remains absent from the team’s workouts.

He hasn’t participated in any offseason practices and wants a raise, even though he has two years left on his contract.

In Bennett’s absence, the Bears rotated Dante Rosario, Bear Pascoe and Zach Miller in with the first-team offense.

The team loaded up its roster with tight ends, possibly in case this standoff gets even worse. Blake Annen, Jacob Maxwell, Chris Pantale and Brian Vogler are the other tight ends on the roster.

Bennett’s non-participation comes after he caught 90 passes last season, most ever by a Bears tight end.

–Fangio’s biggest decisions before the release of defensive end Ray McDonald figured to be at outside linebacker, and it still could play out that way.

He admitted that he has never had so many different players trying to find spots at inside or outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho have the most experience at the outside spots.

Jared Allen and David Bass have both lined up at the spots in OTA pass-rush situations. Still to be determined are what the Bears will do with Lamarr Houston (ACL) and Willie Young (Achilles). Both are coming off surgeries and were 4-3 ends, and they currently can only watch practices until rehab ends.

“A lot of the things that look hard to them now will eventually be easy,” Fangio said of his new outside linebackers. “But we gotta work through that.”

Inside, Shea McClellin, Christian Jones and Mason Foster have had a lot of the OTA and minicamp reps, but Jon Bostic figures into that situation and was sitting out practice this week for unexplained reasons.

The Bears normally do not reveal injury status in the offseason workouts unless it’s a serious situation.

McClellin has intrigued Fangio and other defensive coaches, even if he rapidly became a player the fan base disliked because he hasn’t lived up to his first-round status.

“Well, he’s got good size, he’s got good athletic ability,” Fangio said. “He has been hindered, I think, by being moved around, to no fault of anybody’s — it’s just the way it goes.

“I think he’s got a chance to be a good inside linebacker.”

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