Bears’ Matt Forte to get extension, but it will take some time
By Mark Potash email@example.com July 31, 2011 10:48PM
Bears running back Matt Forte catches a ball during training camp on Sunday at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. | AP photo
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:21AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said he intends to give running back Matt Forte a contract extension but hinted it might not be done as easily, or as quickly, as Forte would like.
‘‘I told [his agent, Adisa Bakari] . . . our intent is to do that,’’ Angelo said Sunday at the Bears’ training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. ‘‘That’s a strong word. When I say intent, then we’re motivated to do something. The timetable is yet to be determined. Just be patient. Take care of your job as you already have and continue to do, and we’re going to do our part.
‘‘But, again, it’s a negotiation. You’ve got to find that common ground. That part of it will be a challenge. You’re not talking about [an unrestricted free agent], where there’s an open market [and] you bid. These extensions are much tougher because agents normally look at the UFA market to set their counts. But he’s not a UFA.
‘‘And that’s the challenge. We’ve got a pretty good track record. [Team negotiator Cliff Stein ] is the best. I trust him. Adisa Bakari . . . we’ve dealt with him. He’s a very good agent, so I feel optimistic.’’
A year after spending $13 million on running back Chester Taylor and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, Angelo is enjoying the other end of the risk-reward spectrum with Roy Williams, Vernon Gholston, Amobi Okoye and Marion Barber.
All four veteran players came relatively cheap — Williams, Gholston and Okoye signed one-year contracts and could provide a huge payoff. Barber signed a two-year deal for $5 million.
‘‘We’ve got a good football player at what I consider a good value,’’ Angelo said about Barber. ‘‘The thing I like about some of the players we have, in particular Roy Williams and Vernon Gholston — they could have had more money at other places.
‘‘I like players who like to bet on themselves. When you pay a player a lot of money to get him, you’re betting on him. But these players are betting on themselves. I respect that about them. It tells you a little bit about how they feel about our situation and how they feel about themselves.’’
The Olsen trade
Angelo confirmed that the decision to trade Greg Olsen was more about Olsen’s fit in the Bears’ offense than anything else. With Olsen and Manumaleuna gone, the Bears are going with former Steeler Matt Spaeth and veteran Kellen Davis at tight end.
‘‘We’re not looking for Kellen Winslow; we’re looking for Mike Ditka,’’ Angelo said. ‘‘And so, the tight ends we have now really fit more of the profile we want for our offense. It’s no more than that.’’
One giant step?
Offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb, a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 who became a starter as a rookie last season, is hoping to make even bigger strides this year.
‘‘Definitely the Pro Bowl,’’ Webb said.
The 6-7, 328-pound Webb is a relative mainstay on an offensive line still in flux with the addition of first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi and the loss of center Olin Kreutz. But he still has a long way to go.
‘‘I’ve got to improve my strength, my knowledge of the game,’’ Webb said. ‘‘And I need to improve myself in terms of staying focused and getting the job done every time — being more consistent.’’