The Bears know that one player can’t make up for Matt Forte‘s consistent production, but they believe that their committee of running backs can pick up the slack, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes.
“Maybe not one can do all that Matt brought to the table,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said. “But they all bring a strength that can probably add up to what he brought. To say you’re going to replace Matt Forte — it’s going to take years, right?”
Here’s more from the NFC North:
- The Vikings will have to make some tough choices in 2017, as Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune writes. After this season, 17 Vikings players will become unrestricted free agents. That includes Adrian Peterson, who is being paid $12MM this year on a reworked contract. He is due $18MM in ’17 and that sum becomes fully guaranteed in March. As good as AD is, that’s a sum that the Vikings might not be able to justify given their numbers crunch. The Vikings will also have to address safety Harrison Smith, who is one of the best at his position and is earning just $5.3MM in 2016.
- The Vikings‘ crowded linebacker group should create interesting competition, Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune writes. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are virtual locks to start while Chad Greenway will probably start on the weakside, though newcomer Emmanuel Lamur could push him. Beyond that, free agent pickup Travis Lewis and Audie Cole will be duking it out with rookies Brandon Watts, Edmond Robinson, and Kentrell Brothers for a place on the roster. Rookie free agent Jake Ganus is also being given an opportunity to show what he can do.
- The Bears and Willie Young are discussing a two-year extension that would keep him in Chicago until his age-33 season. The 30-year-old has started in eight games during each of the past two seasons and has enhanced his pass-rushing profile considerably during that span. After six sacks in four years with the Lions, Young has registered 16.5 in 30 games with the Bears.
- Packers director of player personnel Eliot Wolf was quoted as saying that Mike Neal has “moved on” from Green Bay, but the veteran linebacker says that is not the case. Neal, for his part, will not rule out a Packers return. It is not clear whether Green Bay still has interest in a reunion.