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Howe: If Patriots Sign Matt Forte, It'd Be A Change In Character For Bill Belichick

BOSTON (CBS) -- The New England Patriots are in the market for a running back this offseason. One big name that's been floating around as a potential fit is former Chicago Bears star Matt Forte.

But is the Patriots signing the 30-year-old back a real possibility ?

The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe joined Johnston & Flynn (filling in for Toucher & Rich) to discuss the possibility of Forte to New England. Schematically, Howe thinks it would be a good match.

"H'e's a guy who would absolutely fit their offense and if they knew that he would give them 13 or 14 games next year, I think that's something they would take," said Howe. "I think they'd be crazy not to call him, and I'm sure they will."

After all, Forte has made it clear that he wants to join a winner at this point in his career.

Howe warned that the Patriots won't be the only winner in the market for Forte's services, however. Running back is a position of need for plenty of winning teams this off season.

"You could make the case that every division winner from last year could use a running back with the exception of the Broncos, assuming they keep C.J. Anderson, and the Vikings," said Howe.

Howe said the Frank Gore deal -- three years, $12 million -- might be a good comparable for what Forte might get. But signing aging running backs to lucrative deals has not been part of Bill Belichick's plan over the past decade, either.

"You've got to remember, Bill Belichick has not given a running back an average annual value in excess of $2 million dollars since Corey Dillon back in 2005," noted Howe. "Corey Dillon got injured that year, their offense was a mess because they couldn't run the ball, they had just given Dillon a ton of money. And the next year, they went out and drafted [Laurence] Maroney in the first round and two years, three years after that, they started adding a bunch of veterans in free agency. Bill Belichick basically determined that he wasn't going to stake his fortune on one running back; he wanted it to be in the hands of three, four, five guys at some point, open up the competition in camp. So is Belichick going to give a guy like Forte three years and $12 million dollars? It's something he hasn't done in over a decade, and it's a guy who just turned 30 and is coming off the worst statistical season of his career."

Forte will almost certainly be looking for more than $2 million per year.

Howe thinks that if Forte goes elsewhere, it might be smart to re-sign LeGarrette Blount, provided he is willing to accept a team-friendly, incentive-based deal.

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