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Bears QB Jay Cutler Would Be 'Shocked' If Matt Forte Doesn't Sign Tender By July 15

The Chicago Bears have executed some heady moves during the 2012 NFL offseason, but they still have one big issue hanging around. The signing of running back Michael Bush and the trade for wide receiver Brandon Marshall should make the offense more potent for Jay Cutler and company, but Matt Forte could certainly add another dimension for defenses to consider. Unfortunately, he is in a contract dispute with the team and has yet to sign his $7.7 million franchise tender. The deadline to reach a multi-year agreement is July 16 -- just nine days before training camp starts -- and Cutler says he expects Forte to sign his tender by then, as he stated on Friday during ESPN 1000's "Waddle & Silvy Show."

"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 time in training camp). 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."

It's a low-risk statement for Cutler, as it's not his money or future on the line, and he even hedged his bets a bit along the way by saying Michael Bush can "get the job done if need be" as well. Forte is still looking for a long-term contract after earning Pro Bowl honors in 2011 by rushing for 997 yards (4.9 yards per carry), and catching 52 passes for 490 receiving yards (9.4 yards per reception).

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