Late last month, speculation emerged that Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte might stage a training camp holdout to jump-start negotiations on a contract extension. In the end, Forte reported on time after Bears general manager Jerry Angelo pledged he would get a deal done.
ForteThe news that Forte might sit out preseason games pending that new deal should be viewed in a different light. It's true that players generally aren't the ones to make such decisions. But the Bears wouldn't be likely to interpret the decision as a move to apply pressure, as long as Forte still participates in practice, and it might actually be in the team's best interest.
Do the Bears really need to expose one of their top offensive players to what are likely to be sloppier-than-ever preseason games this summer? The Bears' preseason opener is Saturday at Soldier Field against the Buffalo Bills. After the turf was deemed unworthy for so much as a practice last Friday, maybe it would be a good idea to keep Forte -- and a number of other important veterans -- on the sideline.
Three years ago, the Bears set a precedent for limiting the work of a veteran player in contract negotiations with receiver Devin Hester. His deal was done before the start of the preseason, but Hester did very little in practice until the contract was signed.
Forte told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune that he has "considered" sitting out preseason games but hasn't "gotten there yet." Any decision would follow a meeting with Angelo, coach Lovie Smith and agent Adisa Bakari. All of them could find legitimate reasons to reach the same conclusion.
I don't sense there is much acrimony involved here, at least not yet. Sitting out the preseason might be best for Forte -- and the Bears.