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The Early Lead
Posted at 04:00 PM ET, 05/23/2012

Matt Forte skips Bears OTAs as contract dispute continues


Matt Forte is holding out for a new contract. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP)

The Chicago Bears opened OTAs Tuesday and to no one’s surprise, running back Matt Forte was noticeably absent.

One of the NFL’s leading rushers last December when he tore his ACL, Forte was slapped with Chicago’s franchise tag but has refused to sign his tender. Forte’s agent had been seeking a long-term contract worth $8.5 million per year, according to the Chicago Tribune. But in the wake of LeSean McCoy’s new five-year, $45 million contract extension, Forte’s asking price likely just went up. He is slated to earn $7.742 million this season under the franchise tag.

If the Bears wanted to give Forte the pay day he’s requesting, they certainly could. After signing its six-man draft class, Chicago still has $3.81 million in cap space, and as the Tribune reports, restructuring a long-term deal could actually lower his cap hit. But the team seems hesitant to pull the trigger for a 26-year-old player coming off a major knee injury, and Forte doesn’t appear ready to back down.

The Bears signed free agent Michael Bush in April to bolster their backfield, and the move didn’t sit well with their incumbent running back.

“There’s only so many times a man that has done everything he’s been asked to do can be disrespected!” Forte tweeted. “Guess the good guys do finish last.”

Forte made $555,000 last season while piling up 203 carries and 52 receptions in only 12 games. His 1,497 all-purpose yards placed him eighth in the NFL among non-kickoff and punt returners.

To this point, contract talks between the Bears and Forte’s agent, Adisa Bakari, seem to have stalled. The deadline for the two sides to reach an agreement on a new multi-year deal is July 16 at 3 p.m. If they cannot, Forte will be stuck with the franchise tag.

More

Matt Forte says Bears “disrespected” him with Michael Bush deal

Forte is racking up yards at a bargain basement price

By  |  04:00 PM ET, 05/23/2012

Tags:  NFL

 
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