The Chicago Bears will not be resigning Matt Forte for 2016. Forte has played in Chicago his entire eight year career. Since 2008, Forte has 12,718 yards from scrimmage–the most in the NFL. He also leads all running backs with 487 receptions and 4116 receiving yards. Shockingly, it is the Bears’ decision to not resign Forte despite having the third most cap space in the NFL.
“We recently met with Matt to inform him we will not extend a contract offer for the 2016 season,” general manager Ryan Pace said in an official statement. “These decisions are never easy, especially given what Matt has meant to our team and community. We have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Matt is one of the all-time great Bears and did an excellent job for us on and off the field last season. He was a tremendous teammate. We thank him for his professionalism and wish him the very best as he continues his career.”
In other words, the Bears saw the potential of Forte’s backup, Jeremy Langford, last year and decided to move forward with him as a much cheaper option. This is a head-scratcher. Forte’s production has been consistent through his entire career. Unlike most running backs, his production didn’t show a dip in his late twenties. Forte is the Adrian Peterson of receiving running backs.
This could be a sign of what’s to come for the Bears. I have to think that they are in rebuilding mode after several seasons of disappointment. Perhaps the Bears won’t be signing Forte because they have several positional needs–especially on defense. This, however, begs the question, “Why Forte? Why not Cutler who is severely overpaid?” If I asked a Bears fan who has been more valuable since Cutler’s arrival, they will surely say Forte. This also makes me wonder if they’ll be willing to pay Alshon Jeffery. It would be crazy if they let both of these play-making stars go, but if the plan is to rebuild, that may be the direction they go.
“Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end. I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to resign me in free agency,” Matt Forte explained in a message to the fans. “I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history. My only regret is not being able to win a Lombardi trophy for the best fans in all of sports. I’m excited about the next chapter of my NFL career. But, Chicago will always be my home. God Bless and Bear Down!”
I expect Forte to seek a championship team in free agency, perhaps at a discount. Any team in contention in need of a running back will pounce on the opportunity of landing a pro like Matt Forte–perhaps the Patriots or the Colts who both currently have miserable rushing attacks.