Matt Forte: Holdout possible

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte said Friday he might hold out of training camp but is optimistic about his ongoing talks with the team.

"Me and my agent are talking to the Bears," Forte said. "So talks continue to go on.
I'm really optimistic about that part -- we continue to talk."

The Bears applied the franchise tag on Forte and have until July 16 to sign him to a long-term deal. If Forte and the Bears don't reach a long-term agreement by then, Forte must play under the franchise tag, which will pay approximately $7.7 million.

"A lot of fans don't appreciate when guys hold out and stuff like that," Forte said. "But if it's a player and that is his leverage, he has to use it. As a team, they're going to use their leverage when they're negotiating against you."

The uncertain nature of the negotiations had Forte seemingly going back and forth on his options.

"Not playing at all? That actually is an option, but there's a slight chance of that happening. There's another option of not being in camp and that stuff. There's two sides to it," said Forte, who later said he would not miss the entire 2012 season.

Forte, who missed four games last season with a sprained MCL in his knee, said the contract talks became personal when he read the Bears were concerned about his knees.

"You can't let it get too personal. It's always personal when you're dealing with the business side of the league because they're talking about you as a person," Forte said. "And when you're an athlete, and you've done everything that you've been asked to do and you've excelled out there on the field and then go out in the media, and you see stuff written about you how they're devaluing you as a player at your position, and saying you're not as good as you think you are, this and that.

"The stats can't lie. If you have good stats and you're playing good, you're obviously a good player. It gets personal when you get devalued like that."

Despite missing four games, Forte rushed for a team-high 997 yards in addition to catching 52 passes for 490 yards last season.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said last week that he didn't expect Forte to hold out from camp.

"I would be shocked if he doesn't sign his tender by July 15, or whenever it is, and he shows up. It would really be a surprise to me (if Forte misses any training camp)," Cutler said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on June 13. "At the end of the day, I think Matt knows it's business. He's still getting seven-whatever-million dollars to play this year. So he's gonna show up."

ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers contributed to this report.