Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte sat out of practice on Thursday, and it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll miss his third straight game when the Bears host the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Naturally, the question that fans have been asking since Jeremy Langford took over is if it matters.
Earlier this week on NFL.com, senior analyst Gil Brandt compiled a list of players entering free agency that should be re-signed and a list of those who should not. It should be noted that Alshon Jeffery was on the “bring them back” list, but Forte found himself on the “let them walk” side of things. This is what was written about the eight-year veteran.
“Since entering the NFL in 2008, Forte has amassed 2, 421 total touches — easily the most in the league in that span. He still has some skills, but his age (29) and that workload have combined to slow him down. In 2013, his yards-per-carry mark was 4.6, but in the two seasons since, it’s dipped to 3.9. Like Hali, Forte can still contribute somewhere on a one-year deal, but probably not with his current team, which has a promising young rookie in Jeremy Langford ready to take over the running back position.”
It’s true that Langford has stepped in and played well in Forte’s absence; he actually plays a very similar game. He runs well, and has been exceptional catching passes out of the backfield. Over the last two weeks, the rookie has run for 145 yards in addition to 179 receiving yards and has also scored three touchdowns. Not bad for a fourth-round draft pick. However, I don’t think Forte is quite ready to give up his spot just yet, especially since he’s averaging nearly 110 yards from scrimmage in the games he’s played, accounting for 32% of the offense. But it was inevitable that the media would start asking him questions regarding Langford and his impending free agency, and Forte himself knew that they would come.
“The fans are the fans, ” Forte said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately [league]. I’ve been out a few games and Jeremy has done well stepping in for me. So everybody is always looking for the next best thing. With [me] being in my contract year, it’s obvious that that’s the storyline that will come up.”
Forte also understands the business side of things. Jeremy Langford is costing the Bears $570, 906 against the cap in his rookie campaign while he costs $9.2 million. General manager Ryan Pace made no real effort to extend Forte’s contract this previous offseason and has no plans to talk about it until after this season is over, and it almost sounds like that may be getting to him a little bit.
“Chicago is kind of like that: ‘Well, see ya later, Matt.’ I’m like, ‘Man, I’ve been here going on eight years — y’all just going to throw me to the side like that?’ But that’s the nature of the NFL. And I don’t mind. I will play wherever I end up after that. I’m not really worried about it, ” Forte said, “because I’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. I can continue my career no matter what happens.”
There’s a lot of football left to be played in 2015, and there certainly won’t be any decisions made on anything anytime soon, but now speculation has started that he may end up in Green Bay once the season is over. Let’s certainly hope that’s not the case, but this is the NFL. I think we can all agree that anything can happen.