Lance Briggs, who understands Matt Forte's frustration better than most on the Bears, said the disgruntled running back should ''do what you believe'' in his standoff with the team over a long-term contract.
''Because no one knows you like you,'' Briggs said. ''And no one's going to take care of you like you.''
Unhappy with the one-year offer of $7.7 million for 2012 as the Bears' ''franchise'' player, Forte is not participating in the Bears' offseason program. It's all voluntary so far. But next week's three-day mini-camp is mandatory, which means Forte will be subject to fines if he holds out.
Briggs was in a similar situation in 2007, when he had the franchise tag. Briggs did not participate in the offseason program and held out of the mini-camp. But when the Bears wouldnt budge on a long-term deal, he signed his $7.2 million one-year offer on the eve of training camp.
''It was challenging,'' Briggs said of his contract impasse with the Bears. ''The toughest part was that I wanted a long term deal and the organization didn't. It was a little personal. I thought that I had earned the right to stay here for a long time, rather than give you my services for a year and potentially be shopped out again. A lot of guys, they want that long-term security. They want to know the team wants you for a long period of time.''
Though the Bears are even less likely to budge with Forte than they were with Briggs, it's more likely Forte will miss camp, at least the beginning of it. Briggs, probably speaking for most if not all of his teammates, wouldn't begrudge Forte at all for taking it that far.
''We're all grown men,'' Briggs said. ''We know that we all have to do what we have to do. So whatever Matt has to do, I completely understand. He's not letting me down. He's not letting any his teammates down.
''He's come out here and put his life and his mind and body on the field for all of us. He's done a lot of thrills for the city of Chicago and everyone has seen what he's capable of doing and what he means to our team.''
Briggs said he thinks Forte ultimately will come to camp and play the 2012 season.
''I'm not worried about it,'' he said. ''To me it's not an issue. I know the type of player that Matt Forte is. You know the type of player that Matt Forte is. I guarantee you Matt Forte is working out now. Whenever Matt is ready, I can't wait to have him on the field.''