Matt Forte knows what people would have said had he not spent the last seven weeks as part of the Bears’ offseason program.
“If I don’t show up (to voluntary organized team activities), everybody’s on me: ‘Oh, you’re selfish. You’re this. You’re that. Honor your contract,’” he said Thursday at Halas Hall.
“But then if, say, I didn’t perform last year and (the Bears) wanted to cut me or cut my pay, they can do that. They can get rid of you. So nobody says nothing to the team about that.
“It’s a hypocritical league. That’s what it’s about. As a player, all I can do is go out there and perform.”
Forte has one year and a base $7.05 million left on his four-year contract, and wants an extension. After missing the Brian Piccolo Award presentation in April, though, he attended OTAs and the three-day mandatory minicamp, which ended Thursday, and said he was appreciative for the opportunity.
He will be at training camp starting July 29, too, he said.
Contrast that with tight end Martellus Bennett, the only Bears player to miss the voluntary offseason program, who finally practiced Tuesday once the team could start fining him for his absence. Bennett has two years left on his deal; Forte, like receiver Alshon Jeffery, has one.
“Either they want to give you an extension or they don’t,” Forte said. “And, me personally, from my position, you see it the other way: ‘Why wouldn’t you?’
“Everyone else is looking from the outside in — ‘Oh, you’re 29! You’re getting old.’ But I’m out here. I’ve done OTAs and minicamp. I look the same as I’ve been since I’ve got here. I haven’t slowed down. I continue to run, catch the ball, run theroutes, do everything the same, be versatile, which, as I said, adds value to a team.
“So if I’m the GM, I’m getting an extension.”
If he’s the head coach, he’s getting the ball, too. Forte knows that a good running game can be quarterback Jay Cutler’s best friend in Adam Gase’s new offense.
“We learned that last year,” Forte said. “We definitely didn’t run the ball nearly enough last year, and it hurt, and as evidence we were 5-11.
“So the running game is going to be really good, to open up the passing game and also to keep us with confidence in the offensive line. We got some big guys up there that know how to block. They want to run the ball.”
He ran 266 times for 1,038 yards last season. His 102 catches — the most ever for a running back — yielded 808 yards. Forte has no interest in repeating his receiving record, but prides himself on his multi-faceted ability to run, catch and block.
He described Gase’s offense the same way.
“The more versatile you are, the more ways you have to get the ball, the more stress you can put on a defense, the more valuable you are as a player,” he said. “If you can put stress on the defense, that opens up other players, everything.”
His teammates have become comfortable with the scheme and, he said, will keep studying during the 40-day break to avoid wasting time on refreshers in Bourbonnais.
“We just got a lot of leeway to do different things and not be in a system, but in a system that accentuates the player and his best assets,” Forte said. “We’re not going to run a play if someone’s not good at doing something.
“We’re going to run the plays that we’re good at.”
He’ll be practicing that on the field in Bourbonnais, walk-year contract and all.
“I’ll be there,” he said. “It’s just one of those things. Like I said before, there’s nothing I can really do. “
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