Bears running back Matt Forte is still holding out hope that his agent and the Bears can strike a long-term deal. But, he acknowledged to Sun-Times colleague Joe Cowley that the process has left some "scars."
"That's what happens when you get into the business side of sports," he said. "There's an easy way to get over those scars, but we'll see. Everyone looks at it and says, 'Oh, it's only about money. It's not only about money.' It's about you going out there and putting your heart and soul on the field, being respected for what you do, and then being rewarded for it."
The difference, of course, is how he and the team believe is a fair "reward."
The deadline for coming up with a long-term deal is July 16. If the two sides can't consummate a long-term deal, then Forte's only option is a one-year franchise tender worth $7.7 million.
For now, the two sides are still talking.
"That's a good thing, and we'll continue to talk," Forte said. "So that's good news that we're still talking. That's about it."
Here is the full text of Cowley's report.
In assorted interviews, Forte has made more cryptic statements, most notably that he would consider skipping training camp, if negotiations aren't going well. But he told the Sun-Times that the state of contract talks are far better than a year ago.
"Last year we were worlds apart, but it's gotten better," Forte said. "But I can't talk about the specifics."
So what is he looking for?
"Market value, that's basically what I'm talking about," Forte said. "There have been a lot of running backs that have been in my position that have signed, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster. There's an area that we need to deal from, and we all know what that area is. It's just a matter of doing it."
McCoy just signed a five-year, $45 million deal with just more than $20 million guaranteed. Foster signed a five-year, $43.5 million deal with $20.75 million guaranteed.
Numerous teammates have insisted Forte deserves a new deal. But, Forte wasn't overly thrilled with comments made by quarterback Jay Cutler, who said he'd be "shocked" if the running back didn't sign his tender by the middle of July.
"It kind of looks bad when other people speak for you. [Cutler] doesn't really know what's going to happen. He's not in the negotiations," Forte said diplomatically. "He's just being optimistic. He wants me there, I want to be there. But it's just a matter of what happens in the next couple of weeks."