By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Veteran Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte announced on Instagram Friday that the team will not re-sign him. The 30-year-old Forte will become an unrestricted free agent when the trading period begins at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9.
Now that it's official that Forte will be on the free-agent market, he will be arguably the top running back available - even at age 30. The New England Patriots have a need at the running back position and figure to clear plenty of cap space in the offseason, so would it make sense to bring Forte to Foxboro?
Let's go over the reasons why Forte would make sense for the Patriots to acquire - and also why he would not.
Why Forte Makes Sense For The Patriots
1. He would fill a need and be a dynamic weapon for Tom Brady and the offense. Assuming Forte still has some juice left in the tank, he is big enough to run between the tackles and has some of the best hands of any running back in the league, which could keep him on the field for all three downs for the Patriots. Most importantly, Forte would be a legitimate threat to make big plays every time he touches the ball, something the Patriots haven't had at the running back position in some time.
That wheel route play that Brady and Josh McDaniels love to run so much with their running backs? Forte could nail it.
2. He wants to win a Super Bowl. "My only regret is not being able to win a Lombardi trophy for the best fans in all of sports," Forte said in his Instagram post bidding farewell to the Chicago faithful. He clearly wants to win a ring before calling it a career, and there would be few better franchises, if any, that would give him a chance to accomplish that than the Patriots.
Most of the 2015 playoff teams are not in need of a premium back, which would leave Forte off their wish list. This could likely leave the Patriots competing with teams like Seattle, Dallas, Houston, and the New York Giants for his services. If the interest is mutual, perhaps Forte could agree to a team-friendly deal rather than break the bank.
Why Forte Doesn't Make Sense For The Patriots
1. The Patriots already have their third-down back - and his backup. As good as Forte could be on early downs, much of Forte's value comes from his pass-catching ability, and the presence of Dion Lewis would eat into some of that. Lewis emerged as a legitimate weapon for the offense and signed a contract extension, which ensures his place in the offense for at least one more season, and James White proved to be a serviceable backup in that role after Lewis went down with a torn ACL.
It seems more likely that the Patriots add a less pricey power back to complement Lewis, and that guy could come off the scrap heap just like No. 33 did. Speaking of price tags...
2. His contract might not be desirable for the team. Forte could be the top running back available on the free-agent market. 2014 rushing leader DeMarco Murray scored a five-year, $40 million contract ($21 million guaranteed) with the Philadelphia Eagles as the best back available last year. Forte, however, is 30 years old with plenty of tread on his tires, and didn't have nearly the kind of season Murray had in 2014, so he's more likely to sign a deal in the range of what DeAngelo Williams and Frank Gore (both 32 years old) signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts, respectively.
Gore signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Colts as a 31-year-old, including $6.5 million guaranteed, while Williams signed with the Steelers for two years and $4 million with just $1.13 million guaranteed. The Patriots could certainly work with a cap hit in the range of $2-4 million for Forte, but would they want to lock him up for multiple years when they already have several major contracts to work out on the defense?
Forte makes a lot of sense for the Patriots on the field. He meets a pressing need for the Patriots and could be outstanding in McDaniels' offense, as long as he hasn't lost much of his explosiveness. He would be motivated to win a Super Bowl and conduct himself like a consummate pro, which the Krafts would love.
However, Forte is 30 years old and could be on the verge of a steep decline, would be redundant on the roster as a pass-catching back, and could be out of the price range the Patriots may have for the position anyway. The price tag will ultimately be the deciding factor in whether Forte signs with New England, and if Forte is willing to sign for short money, Bill Belichick could consider bringing him in.
What do you think about Matt Forte in a Patriots uniform? Vote below!
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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