BOURBONNAIS – Matt Forte wanted a contract extension. Instead, he received a promise.
That was good enough for Forte to arrive to training camp Friday at Olivet Nazarene University. He is expected to be on the field for the team’s first practice today.
Forte decided not to hold out after a conversation with Bears general manager Jerry Angelo.
“I kind of got my mind put to ease by Jerry,” Forte said. “He had been in talks with my agent since the end of the lockout, and even before that, and he kind of said that a deal will get done.
“He assured us repeatedly that a deal will get done. And where I’m from, and how I was raised, when somebody gives you their word, it goes a long way.”
Forte, 25, was the Bears’ best player on offense in 2010. He joined Walter Payton as the only players in franchise history to top 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a season.
Forte is due a base salary of $550,000 in the final year of his rookie contract. He could be in line for a steep pay increase if the recent free agent contract for Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (five years, $43 million) is any indication.
It’s not certain whether the Bears will extend Forte’s contract during the preseason or the regular season. The longer a deal takes, the more Forte risks losing because of an injury.
“[Angelo] said I am a priority of his,” Forte said. “What that means … hopefully, that means soon. There’s no telling with that, but ‘priority,’ to me, means soon.”
Second chance: Bears coach Lovie Smith said he was eager to work with Vernon Gholston, who signed a one-year deal with the team after three seasons with the New York Jets.
Gholston (6-3, 260) was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft out of Ohio State, but he never lived up to his potential in New York. He started only five of 45 games, finishing last season with 13 tackles in 16 games (two starts).
“He’s a talented athlete,” Smith said. “We’re going to put him in a position that we think he’ll have a little bit more success. He’ll have his hand down instead of a stand-up end position. He’ll be in a three-point stance, rushing the passer most of the time. We’re going to give him a shot.”
On board: Bears wide receiver Devin Hester welcomed the free-agent addition of Roy Williams (6-3, 215), who is expected to provide the team with a big target in the passing game.
“It’s going to help out a lot,” Hester said. “You have to have an offense where you have big targets and speedy guys like ourselves.
“He’s coming in here and he’s going to be that big target hopefully for Jay [Cutler] to hit in crucial situations, and hopefully it can help out the team.”
Bears bits: The Bears also signed four undrafted rookie free agents Friday. They added Jake Laptad (defensive end, Kansas), Draylen Ross (tight end, North Texas), Dan Dierking (running back, Purdue) and Mike Lamphear (tackle, Western Illinois).