Matt Forte won't discuss contract

Updated: May 17, 2012, 9:48 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

WESTMONT, Ill. -- Running back Matt Forte declined Thursday to speak about his contract negotiations with the Chicago Bears, but he said he appreciated the public support of his teammates and liked the team's offseason moves to bolster the offense.

Forte was designated the Bears' franchise player in March, and the two sides have continued to try to work out a long-term deal. They have until July 16 to agree on a contract or Forte must play under the franchise tag, which would pay him $7.74 million in 2012.

Forte rushed for 997 yards and three touchdowns on 203 carries and had 52 receptions in 2011. He missed the team's final four games after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler recently voiced his support for Forte and said he fully expected Forte to be playing come the Bears' season opener.

"They know I'm a good player and obviously a good teammate," said Forte, who was joined by his agent Adisa Bakari at a lounge opening in Westmont on Thursday. "When you get the support of your teammates, that's always good."

As for playing in the season opener, Forte wasn't as certain.

"I don't know," Forte said. "It's a long way from the first game. We'll see where it takes us."

Forte has not been attending voluntary workouts and declined to answer whether he expects to participate in upcoming organized team activities (OTAs), which begin on May 21. The Bears also will have a full veteran minicamp from June 12-14.

Forte was not concerned about missing the workouts.

"You know I train every day," Forte said. "It's nothing any different to me."

Forte said he has been keeping an eye on the Bears' offseason moves, particulary the additions of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and draft pick Alshon Jeffery.

"They made good moves," Forte said. "(I'm) just excited about the upcoming season. Great addition to have a big receiver on the outside like (Marshall), kind of take that eighth or ninth guy out of the box when we're playing defenses that like to stop the run."

"Alshon should help us out on the outside, too, as well," Forte said. "He's a big receiver, too. I'm looking forward to playing with those guys."

Forte also said he felt healthy and was ready to get back on the field.

"Definitely healthy," Forte said. "At this point of the offseason, everybody's usually a little healthy at this time. You got time off. It's time to start playing again."

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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