On Friday, the Chicago Bears acknowledged they would not be extending running back Matt Forte another contract. Forte was the one to break the news:
My wishes too, Matt. Last year, I wrote about why they should keep Forte. Simply: He is still one of the most talented backs in the league, and certainly one of the most talented and respected Bears currently on the team. There are other reasons as well:
Respect: The Bears have probably spent more on backup running backs over the years than they did on his last contract. I would have loved to see Matt finish out his career with the Bears, and possibly go into the hall of fame. Running backs with 10k rushing yards are pretty rare nowadays. That’s not even speaking of his receiving yards, where in many years, he lead the team.
Work ethic: In my original post, I spoke of Matt Forte’s work ethic. It’s epic, and something that could be passed down to future bears.
Leadership: Matt is no doubt one of the leaders in the locker room. Even if the Bears don’t think they will be competitive the next 2 years, the younger players could learn how to be a professional from someone like Forte.
Cap space: Money shouldn’t be an issue as the Bears have between $56-$59 million dollars to spend. Certainly they could give a few to Forte. As I said earlier, the Bears have spent millions on Forte’s backups, why not spend a few more bucks on a guy who has given so much to the organization, and is a solid dude off the field?
Making a rival better: We don’t know where Matt will go next, but there are two teams in the Bears division that could benefit by a veteran running back: The Detroit Lions, and the Green Bay Packers. I would hate to see Forte go north, and join Aaron Rodgers. Even if he doesn’t go to a division rival, he could very well end up in the NFC or on a team that the Bears would have to play in the next 2-3 years.
A lot left in the tank: Bottom line, even though Matt Forte is 30 years old, I think he has a lot of football left in him. 2-3 years at a high level, minimum. Forte keeps himself in great shape and doesn’t seem to take the big hits. If anything, he gives them out. He has also never had a major injury, and comes back quickly when he does get nicked up.
I wish Matt the best of luck, and hope he lands with a team that has a shot at a Super Bowl. There are a few playoff ready teams that could use a solid running back. Seattle, Dallas, New England, and Indianapolis to name a few. There is little doubt Forte will have a chance to go to one of those, if he so desires.