Following the Bears’ 26-0 shutout loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, their third straight defeat of the season, the Bears began purging their roster of players who apparently did not fit into the long-term direction of the ball club.
First came the news on Monday that Bears general manager Ryan Pace shipped 12-year veteran Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers after his experimental conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker failed to make much of an impact.
Later that day, the Bears also agreed to trade linebacker Jon Bostic, their second-round pick from 2013, to the New England Patriots. Bostic couldn’t adjust to the 3-4 defense the Bears were running and was the odd man out of the rotation.
The third move the Bears made to cleanse their roster was releasing safety Brock Vereen. The second-year pro failed to crack the starting lineup and was passed up on the depth chart by rookie fifth-round pick Adrian Amos. Vereen failed to contribute on special teams to the coaches’ liking and was deemed expendable.
Rumors are swirling that the Bears are not finished remodeling their roster just yet. And we’re not just talking about the bigger, long-term picture. There could be another move or two that occur within the coming days and weeks.
One logical trade scenario would involve shipping away veteran running back Matt Forte, who is in the final year of his contract with the team and does not appear to be in the long-term picture. Forte has had a spectacular career up to this point — currently second on the Bears’ all-time rushing list — and is still one of the best all-around backs in the NFL. But he’ll turn 30 in December and likely will not be the dominant player that he is the next time the Bears are ready for a playoff run.
I’m typically an advocate for trading a player that you know you will lose in free agency. After all, it’s better to get something for him than lose him for nothing. Thus far, the three moves the Bears made won’t hurt the team’s current outlook this season. Willie Young will step up and get more reps in place of Allen and due to Young’s age, he probably has more in the tank than Allen does, anyway. Bostic was not helping the Bears defense and Vereen was doing more good than harm on special teams.
Forte’s dismissal would be a much bigger deal. By trading him, the Bears are essentially throwing in the towel on the season and letting the league know that they’re aiming for a high draft pick come April 2016. As it currently stands, the Bears are long shots to make the postseason, thus, I’m not sure what good it does to keep Forte around.
By trading Forte, the Bears can give the aging running back an opportunity to play for a winner before his time in the league expires. Because let’s face it, a running back’s career can end in an instant. Sometimes, they just “lose it” and there is no gradual decline in play. Not only would Forte benefit from the trade, but rookie running back Jeremy Langford, the heir apparent to Forte’s throne in the backfield, would get to accelerate his learning curve and be prepared for his sophomore campaign as the lead back.
I’m not sure why the Bears would choose to keep Forte around at this point if they indeed are ready to give up on the season. One restrictive factor is Forte’s contract, which may make it difficult for a good team to take him on. But if some team were so willing — and able — even a late-round draft pick in exchange for Forte would give the Bears another young player to evaluate in the coming years. But if the Bears want to do what is best for all parties involved, Forte would be the next player to go.