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What team wouldn’t want a player who has rushed for 8,602 yards, scored 45 touchdowns on the ground, adding another 4,000 plus yards through the air, with another 19 touchdowns on their team?! Well, the Chicago Bears, for one. The Bears recently announced that they will not be offering veteran running back, and franchise stalwart, Matt Forte, a contract for the 2016 season. Forte will turn 31 around week 14 of the upcoming season. That is young, by societal standards, but ancient for a NFL running back.
The Bears are prepared for a post-Forte life. Rookie running back, Jeremy Langford, performed admirably in Forte’s absence throughout the 2015 season. Langford rushed for 537 yards and 6 touchdowns, adding another 279 yards and a touchdown through the air. Sounds like another Matt Forte, right? Langford should take the reign in 2016 and run with it… literally.
So what is next for Matt Forte? His prime has passed and he is most likely a 3rd down back, or fill-in back at this point of his career. So which teams make the most sense? Let’s take a look at each one.
32. Chicago Bears: Moving on.
31. Los Angeles Rams: It looks like their got their 7-year guy in Todd Gurley. I would imagine their level of interest to be very low. They have far too many holes to fill and limited cap space.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Although Forte would fit their mold of player, they should be set at RB, assuming that Le’Veon Bell is healthy. With DeAngelo Williams in tow, they don’t have much room for another player looking to get carries.
29. Minnesota Vikings: They have a 30-something year old veteran RB of their own. With a pair of young RB’s behind Adrian Peterson, it’d be unlikely that the Vikings would bring Forte in, but wouldn’t it be delicious seeing him go against the Bears twice a year!
28. Arizona Cardinals: Another unlikely destination. They look set on handing David Johnson the top spot on the depth chart. They might bring back Chris Johnson on a one year deal, if he is healthy, to give D.J. a breather now and again.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Are Devonte Freeman and/or Tevin Coleman the future of the franchise at RB? It looks like at least one should be a keeper. Either way, there are two of them. Much like with the Steelers, Forte would be delegated to #3 on the depth chart in “Hot”lanta.
26. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are in a similar situation like the Falcons find themselves in. With Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard at RB, there wouldn’t be much room for another veteran tailback. There just isn’t enough carries to keep everyone happy.
25. Buffalo Bills: Considering they are one year removed from trading for and investing in LeSean McCoy, the Bills would seem like an unlikely fit. Stranger things have happened, but if you’re Matt Forte I’d avoid the train wreck that is Rex Ryan.
24. San Francisco 49ers: There are three schools of thought here. One, the 49ers need to see what they have in Carlos Hyde, whose 2015 season got cut short due to injury. Second, the 49ers are two far away from contention. Forte will have plenty of suitors, so he doesn’t need to sign here. Third… Chip. Kelly.
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A rebuilding team needs their fair share of veterans, but they should look to resign Doug Martin and move forward with their young core. Forte would be a nice #2, since they lack depth, but again, why would he want to sign here?
22. Philadelphia Eagles: It is so hard to assess what this team is. They have DeMarco Murray… For now. They still have Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Do all three make the 2016 roster? Any which way, I don’t see Forte adding his name to a long list of veterans looking to share the same backfield.
21. San Diego Chargers: This is where things start to get interesting. One can make an argument that Forte would fit in with every team from here on out. In my opinion, the Chargers need to see what the heck they have in Melvin Gordon. Even if Gordon isn’t the future RB that they thought they drafted in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, Forte surely isn’t the future.
20. Green Bay Packers: I’ve seen a few people suggest that the Packers might just make a run at Forte. Not only do you have the inter-divisional story line, but he would be a stabilizing force and another outlet for Aaron Rodgers to utilize, at least for one season. This wouldn’t be the dumbest offseason move any team might make. I just don’t see Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson pulling the trigger though. James Starks might move on, however, so there might be a little mutual interest with the cheese heads, considering the uncertainty around Eddie Lacy’s long-term future and his weight concerns.
19. Miami Dolphins: This team is a mess. What is Ryan Tannehill??? Well, he got paid like an elite top notch starting QB, but is he? Until this team figures that out, they need to stop with the big free agent splashes. They need to take a page from the Packers (resigning their own FAs), invest in Lamar Miller and make him their primary back. They should look for a 3rd or 4th year back to bring in for competition, depth and as a back up to Miller. Ronnie Hillman, perhaps?!
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Speaking of what do they have! It’s been rumored that Jamaal Charles could be a cap casualty. Just a year ago that would have been an absurd thought. With Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, the Chiefs have capable backs. I am sure Charles will be back in 2016, and with West and Ware they would all of a sudden become a very deep team at RB.
17. Detroit Lions: With the expected retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Lions should be a team that looks to rebuild. They drafted Ameer Abdullah at RB in 2015 and they still have some other veteran talent on the roster. I just don’t see Forte signing with a team that might be, at best, a 7-9 team. Even if it is a division rival of the Bears.
16. New Orleans Saints: This team doesn’t make a lot of sense for no other reason beyond their horrific cap situation. Most players that are brought in for the Saints in 2016 will be minimum salaried players. Would Forte sign in New Orleans for a chance to compete in a division with the Super Bowl contender Panthers, the Falcons, who are probably better than their 2015 record suggested and expected improvement from the Buccaneers? Probably not.
15. Oakland Raiders: At first glance, the Raiders seem pretty solid at RB. They have Latavius Murray, who finished 3rd in the NFL in 2015 in rushing yards. They have adequate depth in Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale and Roy Helu, so they don’t really have a need to upgrade the depth chart at RB. However, this is the type of signing that the Raiders like to make. Not to mention, they will have the money to throw at him on a short-term deal. Will the Raiders be scared off because of what happened with Maurice Jones-Drew? It’s tough to say, but this is where things begin to get interesting.
14. Cleveland Browns: Who would willingly sign here, if given other options?! The Browns might look to add Forte to go along with Josh McCown as they look to rebuild through the draft. I would assume the Browns would have more interest in Forte than vice versa, considering their void at the position. In the end, however, I don’t see this being even a remote possibility.
13. Baltimore Ravens: Forte would have to ask himself if 2015 was an aberration or a sign of things to come for the Ravens. They lost both Steve Smith and Joe Flacco to season-ending injuries, so that has to be factored in. Will they bounce back in 2016? I doubt anyone thinks Javorius Allen is the future at RB, but I don’t see Forte ending up here any which way.
12. Tennessee Titans: Although Forte would probably step in as the front runner to land the #1 spot on the depth chart, the Titans are too far away from competition for a 31 year old RB looking to extend his career for another season or two. Even if Forte was chasing a paycheck, there should be much more attractive opportunities available to him.
11. Jacksonville Jaguars: Well they have TJ Yeldon and Denard Robinson. They have a young QB (Blake Bortles) and a pair of young WR’s (Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns) to go with a solid TE (Julius Thomas, if healthy). They might be an interesting fit and probably have the money to get a deal done. The question would be if Forte has other options, better ones even, would he consider a move to Florida?!
10. Washington Redskins: I am sure 2015 was more of an aberration than anything. They have Matt Jones and Alfred Morris at RB. Does Forte improve the position much? I would think the move would be lateral at best. Daniel Snyder loves his veterans, so this signing wouldn’t be unheard of, but I think Forte still has better options where his playing time wouldn’t be split nearly as much.
9. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts seem intent on bringing back Frank Gore for at least one more season. If that’s the case, then this is nothing more than a swap out of one veteran for another. Unless they plan on having them split time, I can’t see them extending an offer to Forte, although his depth would be a valuable asset.
8. Houston Texans: This would be an interesting fit. Of course, the Texans have to figure out what to do with Arian Foster. If Foster becomes a cap casualty, then the Texans may jump up this list a bit. If I were Rick Smith, though, I’d look towards a slightly younger back, such as Chris Ivory, Ronnie Hillman or James Starks to supplement the position.
7. Denver Broncos: So the next few teams might be interchangeable. Do they bring back Ronnie Hillman? They still have CJ Anderson and they have Juwan Thompson, who showed flashes of being serviceable in limited action. Their biggest question mark is of course at QB. Forte would look good dawning the defending champions’ colors. This is a definite possibility, but they have a lot of pending FAs, especially on defense, so Forte would be a very low priority, at best.
6. New York Giants: Forte in New York would open up that passing game even more. This is an under-the-radar signing that could very well happen. The Giants need to focus their efforts, and cap space, on defense, but if the numbers work and if there is mutual interest, keep an eye on this one.
5. New York Jets: The Jets top two RBs are both FAs (Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell), so this team needs help at the position. If they lose Chris Ivory, their leading rusher in 2015, what will they do? They could look to the same cast of pending FAs that is available. This team almost got into the playoffs last year. Forte would look good joining forces once again with Brandon Marshall. This is a very real possibility.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Two words: Jerry Jones. Forte is just the kind of signing that Jones loves to make. It’s a big splash with a veteran name that Jones is infamous for making. Darren McFadden had a solid, and healthy, year in spite of all the headaches that surrounded former starting RB, Joseph Randle. McFadden and Forte would make a solid duo out of the backfield for the oft-injured and aging Tony Romo. His catching ability would work well in getting more open looks for Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.
3. Carolina Panthers: How many Panthers fans held their collective breath when Jonathan Steward left Super Bowl 50 with a limp? Answer is… ALL OF THEM! Without DeAngelo Williams to lean on, Stewart was the only reliable RB the Panthers had (outside of Cam Newton’s assistance). Matt Forte would look solid in the backfield alongside Stewart, giving them the two-headed tandem they enjoyed for so many years with Stewart and Williams.
2. Seattle Seahawks: Exit: Marshawn Lynch. Enter: Matt Forte. Need we move on? Is Thomas Rawls the future? Who knows?! Fred Jackson provides excellent depth, but shouldn’t be relied on in a #1 or #2 capacity at 35 years old (assuming he returns that is). Forte would be a perfect one year stop gap to replace Lynch’s production.
1. New England Patriots: The most obvious fit. Doesn’t he fit the mold of everything the Patriots do? Forte doesn’t need 25 carries to be productive. In a Bill Belichick offense, Forte could have 12-15 carries and another 4-6 targets coming out of the backfield every game. He takes the roster spot of LeGarrette Blount. Check Mate. Game. Set. Match.