The Chicago Bears concluded their off season workout program last week with a full veteran mini camp and they won't gather as a team again until they report to training camp on July 25th. There's a lot of time between then and now for Bears fans to speculate on all things Navy and Orange. But topic #1 for many fans is still the status of Matt Forte. Will he sign and play under the $7.7 million franchise tag? Will he hold out? Will he sign a long term deal with the Bears?There's been a lot written about the leverage that Forte has, most recently by Steven this weekend, and it seems like the public's affinity in this situation is creeping more and more behind the team. That's not to say that Forte doesn't have his "Pay Da Man" army still beating the drum, but the drumsticks have been replaced with drum brushes. The vocal support for Forte is much quieter.
The window to sign him to a long term deal closes on July 16th. If he isn't locked up before then he'll be forced to play 2012 under the franchise tag or not play at all.
There's zero concern from Bears coaches that if Forte signs that he'll show up out of shape. With no OTAs last year he showed up in tremendous physical condition. And there isn't much concern that he'll struggle with the playbook if he gets into camp.
"There's a little different terminology, but Matt is smart enough that he should be able to pick it up," running backs coach Tim Spencer said. "Some of our things we're doing with the same name. We're doing some of the same things with a different name, too. So once he masters that he should be OK. He should be very functional when he comes in."
I don't see any scenario that doesn't have Matt Forte in training camp, as this is a game of chicken that he and his agent can't win.