NFC Rumors: Forte, Jeffery, Hardy, Avril

Matt Forte‘s free agency bid’s played a role in the Bears running back’s recovery timetable, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old dual-threat back suffered a sprained MCL two weeks ago and, similar to a pitcher in the last days of his contract with a non-playoff-bound team, Forte won’t rush back.

That’s [a factor], if not the most important factor — the future,” Forte told reporters, via Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. “Because if you go out there for one game and then ruin the rest of your season and maybe your career, then that’s a big factor. There’s a lot of football left to be played. So you don’t want to chance it for one game.”

Forte’s in the fourth and final year of a $30.4MM pact, his second with the Bears, and as of now looks to be the top option in the 2016 running back class, along with Chris Ivory.

Florio does speculate Forte would be more inclined to return to the field sooner if the Bears decided to offer him a third contract.

Here’s some more news coming out of the NFC locales.

  • If the Bears were observing a healthy contract year from Alshon Jeffery, the decision to re-sign the fourth-year wideout to a lucrative, long-term extension wouldn’t be difficult, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes. Jeffery’s been on and off the injury report this season, missing four games, and this week’s served as a microcosm, with the ex-second-rounder dominating Monday night only to miss practice time this week with his third leg-muscle injury this season. Campbell offers that the Bears could place some escalators in Jeffery’s possible extension revolving around playing time. “You have to bet on the player that he’s going to get healthy,” former GM Mark Domenik said. “When you start to bet that your guy is going to be hurt, if you think that, then you probably shouldn’t sign him. Move on and do it with a clear conscience.”
  • The release of the domestic violence photos in association with the Greg Hardy case a day after the Cowboys defensive end saw this incident expunged from his record illustrates how the NFL likely wanted that information out there, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The Mecklenburg (N.C.) County District Attorney’s office and the Charlotte Police Department informed the Globe they did not release the photos, and the NFL, due to its independent investigation, was the only other entity with access to the photos and transcript, Volin writes.
  • Rumors connected Rod Marinelli to a potential return to Tampa Bay prior to signing a three-year extension with the Cowboys in January, according to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. Marinelli has connections to both the Bucs, who employed him as their defensive line coach from 1996-2005, and Lovie Smith, whom Marinelli worked for from 2009-12 with the Bears.
  • Prior to his father’s death, Cliff Avril told him he would only play in the NFL for 10 years due to health reasons, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. The 29-year-old Seahawks defensive end’s in his eighth season. “And I plan on it,” he says. “Unless something crazy happens and they’re offering me some ridiculous amount of money.” Avril said. “Then he’d probably tell me to keep playing.”
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