By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) The third and final week of OTAs will conclude Thursday at Halas Hall and when they do, it will be three complete weeks without starting running back Matt Forte.
Locked in a contract dispute with the Bears, the team has gone on without him and, barring a surprising development, will likely do the same next week when mini-camp starts.
“I know he wants to be out here with his team, but you also know what your value is in the league and you work hard,” linebacker Lance Briggs said Wednesday. “You want that to be recognized. You want that to be recognized with a long term deal. You know how this business is. It can be rough and brutal.”
Briggs knows first-hand how brutal it can be, having gone through a similar dispute with the Bears in 2007.
“The toughest part was I wanted a long term deal and the organization didn’t at that time. It was a little personal,” the linebacker said. “I put some time in and thought I had earned the right to stay here for a long time rather than give you my services for a year and potentially be shopped out again. A lot of guys want that long term security. They want to know that the team wants them for a long period of time.”
Assuming Forte stays healthy, the Bears do want the running back in Chicago for a long period of time, but that’s a big “if” for a guy coming off a knee injury with four-years worth of NFL yards on his legs already. Plus, with the new CBA, the Bears can continue to franchise tag him in each of the next two years, which provides them much more insurance than a long-term deal would.
So what is Briggs’ advice for Forte?
“Do what you believe. Just do what you believe because no one knows you like you and no one is going to take care of you like you,” he said.
In the meantime, Briggs insists there is no friction developing between the rest of the team and Forte as they go on without him
“We’re all grown men,” the linebacker said. “We know that everyone here, individually, we all have to do what we have to do. So whatever Matt has to do, I completely understand. He isn’t letting me down, he isn’t letting any of his teammates down, because it’s Matt’s life. He’s come out here and put his life and mind and body on the field for all of us. He’s done a lot of thrills for the city of Chicago and everyone has seen what he’s capable of doing and what he means to our team.”
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