After spending the first eight years of his NFL career with the Bears, running back Matt Forte won’t be returning to Chicago for a ninth season, he announced today. In an Instagram post, Forte confirmed that he was informed by general manager Ryan Pace that the Bears won’t re-sign him as his contract expires this winter.
“Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end,” Forte said. “I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency. 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 home.”
In his 120 regular season contests with the Bears, Forte has piled up 8,602 rushing yards and another 4,116 yards through the air, to go along with 64 total touchdowns. The 30-year-old earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods, including one in 2013, when he accumulated more than 1,900 total yards and 12 touchdowns, both career highs.
While Forte still managed to gain nearly 1,300 yards from scrimmage in 2015, rookie Jeremy Langford showed that he was capable of carrying the load for the Bears in three games the veteran missed due to injury. Langford enters the offseason as the odds-on favorite to be Chicago’s top back in 2016, but the team figures to add some depth at the position, either in free agency or the draft.
As for Forte, he’ll hit the open market when free agency opens on March 9th. If the former second-round pick is willing to take on a more complementary role with a contending team that needs a pass-catching back, there should be no shortage of potential suitors. Even if he wants a larger role, I expect there will be a handful of teams interested in signing him. One club worth considering as a potential fit is in Miami, where former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase is the new Dolphins’ head coach, and Lamar Miller is also facing free agency.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.