Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte was one of the very few bright spots in the team's 2014 season that, at best, could be described as hugely disappointing.
The veteran managed to amass over 1,800 yards combined, and was at times the only functioning part of a faltering Bears offense.
News then this week that Forte was allegedly holding out of the early stages of Chicago's voluntary mini-camp in order to force the franchise into handing him a new contract had the Bears faithful concerned. The running back himself has now spoken out to clarify the situation.
It began with reports from the likes of Around the NFL - writer Kevin Patra claiming Forte was willing to "make a stand" well into the summer in a bid to get a new deal as he enters the final year of his $30.4 million contract.
According to Matt Forte himself though, the reality of his minicamp no show has a much more innocent explanation. The Instagram post below his attempt to straighten out the situation.
Obviously, with a new coaching system in place in Chicago, there will be some Bears fans who feel Matt Forte is putting himself at a disadvantage by not being present and available to the new regime at the first time of asking.
The relief though that he is not putting himself at odds with the franchise's hierarchy and risking long-term unrest is surely a positive that outweighs any other fears.
While Forte's future is inevitably a question that needs to be answered over the coming months it doesn't appear that Chicago Bears owner George McCaskey was worried by the player's decision:
"That's an intensely personal decision and I think that decision should be respected," he explained during a ceremony for the Brian Piccolo Award - a prize Matt Forte was due to pick up.
Aged 29, Matt Forte is heading towards his last big pay day in the NFL and, whilst it doesn't look like his offseason plans are any attempt to force the issue, his performances on the gridiron for the Chicago Bears have been enough to ensure he gets the check he is after regardless.
In his seven years on the roster Forte has never rushed for less than 900 yards and, with question marks over Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall having left for the Jets, he is an integral part of the team's offensive game moving forward.
Bears fans: Where does Matt Forte rank amongst the NFL's top running backs? Have your say in the comments section below...
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