- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs wants to see Matt Forte report to training camp on time next month but would understand if the Pro Bowl running back decides to stage a holdout in protest of his current contractual situation.
Forte and the Bears have until July 16 to finalize a new deal otherwise Forte must play for the $7.749 million franchise tag amount designated for running backs in 2012.
"I hope (that Forte reports to camp) ... (but) I don't know, I don't know." Briggs said Tuesday on the "Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I've been in similar situations with what Matt Forte is going through, but like I said, I don't know. I hope so. I want him there. But I also want him to get paid the way he needs to get paid."
Forte is believed to be looking for a deal on par with recent contracts awarded to fellow running backs LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million, $20.756 million guaranteed) of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Houston Texans’ Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million, almost $21 million guaranteed).
Forte hinted last week that a holdout is a real possibility unless the two sides are able to find common ground in the next couple of weeks.
"A lot of fans don't appreciate when guys hold out and stuff like that," Forte said Friday. "But if it's a player and that is his leverage, he has to use it. As a team, they're going to use their leverage when they're negotiating against you."
The first day of media availability at Bears training camp is scheduled for July 24 with the first practice two days later.
Briggs is no stranger to contract squabbles. The seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker threatened to never play another down of football for the Bears after the club slapped him with the franchise tag in 2007. Briggs eventually signed the franchise tag tender then got a six-year contract from the Bears in free agency the following offseason. Briggs went public again last summer and asked the Bears to either re-work his contract or to trade him after the 2011 season. The Bears and Briggs agreed to a one-year extension on April 11 that will keep him in Chicago through the 2014 season.
Based off his own past experiences, Briggs does not believe Forte hurt the team by his decision to skip the entire offseason program.
"We haven't lost a game because of it yet," Briggs said. "I guess that should answer that. We're not playing ... we don't suit up during the offseason or during the summers. There have been about four summers in a row where I didn't practice with the team because of contract issues and stuff like that. I came in and played just fine."
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs joins 'Waddle & Silvy' to discuss Matt Forte's contract situation, playing with Brian Urlacher and more.
Lance Briggs says he would understand a holdout by Matt Forte.