Bears running back Matt Forte will not be back with the team in 2016. The eighth-year pro with the second-most rushing yards in franchise history announced via an Instagram post that the two sides are headed for a separation.
“Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end,” Forte wrote. “I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency.”
The team issued a press release in which general manager Ryan Pace commended Forte and thanked him for his great service as a member of the Chicago Bears.
We recently met with Matt to inform him we will not extend a contract offer for the 2016 season. These decisions are never easy, especially given what Matt has meant to our team and community. We have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Matt is one of the all-time great Bears and did an excellent job for us on and off the field last season. He was a tremendous teammate. We thank him for his professionalism and wish him the very best as he continues his career.Ryan Pace, Bears general manager
Forte was still productive in 2015, finishing 11th in the league in rushing yards. While that ranking seems just above average, you have to take into account that he split carries with Jeremy Langford as the team attempted to groom the rookie to be Forte’s replacement.
Although Forte appears to have a few good years left in him, it would not make financial sense for the Bears to bring him back. The team is in a transition phase where they’re rebuilding many positions at the same time. By the time they’re Super Bowl ready — perhaps as early as the 2017 season, but likely not until 2018 — Forte might already be past his prime. The team wants to hand the reigns over to Langford in a major youth movement.
The Bears have a lot of needs to fill and just can’t afford to bring back the 30-year-old back. If the team is serious about re-signing Alshon Jeffery and bringing in some potentially expensive defensive free agents, they’re better off allocating the money elsewhere.
Forte finished his Bears career with 8,602 rushing yards, 45 rushing touchdowns, and an average of 4.2 yards per carry. What’s just as impressive was his talent as a receiver out of the backfield. He caught 487 passes for 4,116 yards and 19 touchdowns.