THURSDAY, 8:09pm: The Jets’ deal with Forte is official, Mike Garafolo and Peter Schrager of Fox Sports report (Twitter links). There was a slight hold-up due to Forte’s physical, but nothing emerged that the team viewed as significant, Garafolo reports.
THURSDAY, 9:03am: Forte is getting a three-year deal worth $12MM from the Jets, tweets Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. The contract features an $8MM guarantee and has an additional $4MM available in incentives.
WEDNESDAY, 2:08pm: The Jets have agreed to sign free agent running back Matt Forte, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Forte must wait until 3pm to officially sign, but it looks like he’s heading to New York.
Numerous clubs were said to be interested in Forte after the Bears informed him that he would not be re-signed after eight seasons in Chicago. The Jets had previously been mentioned as a potential destination, as had the Dolphins, and even the division rival Packers were said to have said to be intrigued by Forte.
The 30-year-old Forte will head to the Big Apple, where the Jets are certainly in need of running back help after Chris Ivory agreed to sign with the Jaguars last night. New York’s No. 2 back, Bilal Powell, might also be on his way out, as the market is said to be intensifying for his services.
Forte had a relatively down season in 2015, missing three games with injury and failing to top 1,000 yards rushing for the first time since 2011. But he still managed almost 1,300 yards from scrimmage thanks to his receiving ability — he caught 44 passes out of the backfield for almost 400 yards. Whether Forte is asked to carry the full load in New York or instead serves as a receiving back remains to be seen, as the Jets could certainly add even more weapons in the backfield.
Given his age, Forte isn’t going to command a lengthy deal or a large salary, but it will be interesting to see the specifics of his contract with the Jets. One report earlier this year claimed that Forte would be “lucky” to get $3MM per year on the open market, and while that figure seems a bit low, running backs — especially those over 30 years of age — certainly aren’t valued all that highly in free agency.
PFR listed Forte as the No. 3 free agent running back, behind Doug Martin and Lamar Miller. Martin has already re-signed with the Buccaneers, so Miller remains the best back available, followed by Alfred Morris, Arian Foster, Powell, and Chris Johnson.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.