BOURBONNAIS -- Fourth-year running back Matt Forte, who is fifth in the NFL with 4,731 yards from scrimmage since he joined the Bears but is scheduled to make a base salary of just $550,000 this year, admits he thought about a training camp holdout.
"It was a consideration," he said. "I had to weigh my options. I thought about it.
"But it never benefits a player or a team for somebody to hold out. It's not a good deal on either end. I kind of got my mind put to ease by (Bears general manager) Jerry (Angelo). He had been in talks with my agent since the end of the lockout (on a contract extension) and even before that, and he assured us repeatedly that a deal would get done.
"Where I'm from and how I was raised, when somebody gives you their word that goes a long way."
So Forte was on campus Friday afternoon, looking more jacked-up and ripped than ever before.
Coach Lovie Smith noticed that, but he chose to ignore the possibility of a holdout.
"What I saw was Matt Forte in about the best shape I've seen him in," Smith said. "Ready to go and as excited as he's ever been. Speculation? I don't get into a lot of that, I kind of go on what I see. I see him there with the rest of the guys excited about some of the moves we've made and excited about having a great year."
Get over it:
Six months later, quarterback Jay Cutler is still being asked about the sprained knee that sidelined him in the NFC championship game, and the criticism he received for not finishing the game.
"I didn't read that much," he said. "I kind of got away for a little bit. A lot of my toughness and everything else was questioned, and that's all new to me. It's never been an issue for me. I didn't really know how to react to it, and I know anyone who has ever played with me or coached me has never questioned that, and I know the guys in the (Bears) locker room aren't going to.
"You can't get caught up in that stuff. You're gonna have stuff coming at you left and right, and you're going to have to take it as it is and move on."
Cutler was another player who impressed coach Lovie Smith with his fitness and his dedication. Smith said he expects Cutler to be more of a leader in his third season with the Bears.
"Every year you start off talking about the quarterback, what he has to do," Smith said. "Jay realizes that. Jay Cutler was the first guy here. There has to be one guy who is the first guy to show up to camp.
"He's in the best shape he's ever been in in his life. We're expecting a lot from him."
He's the man:
Unrestricted free agent linebacker Nick Roach, who has started 30 games the past three seasons, was re-signed to a two-year deal for $4.5 million. And he wasn't signed to be a backup as someone reported, to the displeasure of coach Lovie Smith.
"One of you guys put in the paper this past week that we were looking for Nick Roach as a backup," Smith said. "That's definitely not the case. Nick Roach is a starting linebacker for us. He's our starting Sam (strong-side) linebacker, and he'll back up the Mike (middle linebacker) position. He can do an awful lot for us."
First-round pick Gabe Carimi's four-year deal is for $7.06 million, including a $3.63 million signing bonus. Second-rounder Stephen Paea's four-year contract is for $3.69 million and includes a $921,000 signing bonus.
Even if they agreed to terms earlier, free agents could not officially ink contracts until Friday at 5 p.m., which is when the Bears made it official with incumbent nose tackle Anthony Adams (two-year deal), former Jets bust defensive end Vernon Gholston (one year), ex-Cowboys wide receivers Sam Hurd (three years) and Roy Williams (one year), punter Adam Podlesh (five years, $10 million), linebacker Nick Roach, tight end Matt Spaeth (three years) and fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou (one year).
The Bears also agreed to terms with restricted free agent QB Caleb Hanie and exclusive rights free agents Kahlil Bell and Edwin Williams.