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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Scramble'11: Will Matt Forte hold out?

By Kevin Seifert

So the Chicago Bears have swapped punters and overhauled their tight end position but have yet to make any improvements to their offensive line.

Dan of Monroe, La., speaks for many of you: "What in the world are the Bears doing? Jay Cutler is going to have to learn to throw underhand."

I'm sorry to heap bad news on top of your despair, Dan, but let me also pass along this nugget: Tailback Matt Forte might be a training camp holdout. Here's the report from ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright.

Obviously this is a fluid situation. Forte is entering the final year of his contract and has made clear he would prefer an extension sooner rather than later. As we discussed earlier this week, the Bears will have to make a difficult value judgment on how to approach a tailback seeking a lucrative second contract. There haven't been any previous indications Forte would consider holding out, but it was only Wednesday when the Carolina Panthers gave tailback DeAngelo Williams a market-setting contract that included $21 million in guarantees.

We should have our answer soon enough. Bears players must report to training camp Friday at Olivet Nazarene University and their first practice is Saturday. The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement calls for fines of $30,000 per day for holdouts.

One possibility to keep in mind: Three years ago, receiver Devin Hester skipped the opening of training camp as he sought a contract extension. Ultimately, he worked out an agreement with the Bears to report but not practice until negotiations were complete. It's something to keep in mind as we proceed here.