Matt Forte set to skip voluntary minicamp

Bears running back Matt Forte is entering the final year of his contract. He will not attend voluntary minicamp this week and it appears he’s on the verge of a holdout.

The Chicago Bears today held the annual ceremony for the club’s Brian Piccolo Award winners.

This year’s honorees are Kyle Fuller and Matt Forte, yet only Fuller was present. Forte chose not to attend the ceremony, instead sending a written statement thanking his teammates for voting him this year’s winner.

Chairman George McCaskey said he has not spoke with Forte and is unclear if new head coach John Fox or GM Ryan Pace have had any contact with the two-time Pro Bowl running back.

"I don't know what communication he's had with [GM] Ryan [Pace] and coach Fox. I'm leaving that up to them,” McCaskey said. “That's an intensely personal decision and I think that decision should be respected.”

Forte is entering the final season of the four-year contract he signed before the 2012 campaign. He’s 29 and will turn 30 before season’s end, yet he wants a contract extension. His absence today sends a clear message to ownership, which takes the Piccolo Awards very seriously and attaches great meaning and significance to it, that’s he’s ready to begin the staring contest.

It’s an interesting move by Forte, as the club could save $8.2 million in cap space by waiving him. In addition, this year’s class of rookie running backs is very deep and the Bears already have Ka’Deem Carey (22 years old) and Jacquizz Rodgers (26) on the roster.

It’s unlikely the Bears are going to award a soon-to-be-30-year-old a hefty contract extension, that’s just not how today’s NFL works, so this situation has the potential to get much uglier before it gets better.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.

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