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Matt Forte to Jets: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) runs off the field at halftime during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)
David Banks/Associated Press
Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2016

Following a stellar eight-year run in the Windy City, Matt Forte is moving on from the Chicago Bears.

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported Forte and the New York Jets agreed to terms on a deal to make the running back a member of Gang Green on March 9.

The Jets announced the news on March 10.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported Forte signed a three-year deal worth $12 million with $8 million guaranteed. Mehta added there is an additional $4 million in escalators.

Forte spoke to reporters on Monday, saying the Jets see him an "an every-down back." He also said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers showed varying degrees of interest in acquiring his services.

Chicago's decision to let Forte walk made plenty of sense based on rookie Jeremy Langford's emergence throughout the 2015 season, but there's no doubt the 30-year-old still has plenty left to offer.

While Forte has never been the quickest or most electric runner, he has smooth cutback capabilities that make him a threat to rip off solid chunks of yards every time he touches the ball.

On Feb. 12, WEEI's Christopher Price relayed an old quote from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick that highlighted Forte's versatile skill set:

As Belichick alluded to, Forte has been one of the best pass-catching backs the league has ever seen.

Case in point: Since entering the NFL in 2008, Forte has recorded 50 catches in six different seasons. Ray Rice ranks No. 2 during that span with five such campaigns. Darren Sproles ranks third with four.

Matt Forte's Production by Season
SeasonGames PlayedRush YdsRush TDReceptionsRec. YdsRec. TD
2008161,2388634774
2009169294574710
2010161,0696515473
2011129973524901
2012151,0945443401
2013161,3399745943
2014161,03861028084
2015138984443893
Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com

NFL Network painted Forte's production over the past eight years in broader strokes:

Forte still has plenty of tread left on his tires—as a 4.1-yards-per-carry average last season indicated—so he should still be able to operate as a primary rusher who handles anywhere between 60 and 70 percent of the workload.

"From Week 12 on, no running back had a higher run grade than Forte," Pro Football Focus' Nathan Jahnke wrote. "He isn't the long-term solution for the Jets and is a step down from [Chris] Ivory, but he has [proved] he can handle playing the majority of snaps."

And while running backs on the wrong side of 30 have been stigmatized for their loss of explosion and decreased effectiveness, Forte can take solace in the fact Adrian Peterson (30), Chris Johnson (30) and DeAngelo Williams (32) played well to varying degrees throughout the 2015 season.

Forte will have a chance to carry the load for a Jets team that just watched Ivory parlay a huge 2015 season into a lucrative deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to Schefter.

And based on the way he closed out last season, Forte should be able to offer the Jets some nice value—particularly in an offense that doesn't hesitate to feed tailbacks through the air, per ESPN.com's Mike Clay:

The Jets addressed the spots behind Forte on the depth chart, agreeing to deals with Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson, but they still have a question mark at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to field offers on the open market, and Forte hopes he will be the man to hand him the ball next season.

"I would expect and hope it would be [Fitzpatrick], to build off what they had last year," Forte told reporters.

So while he may not amount to more than a bridge starter who assumes control of primary rushing responsibilities until the team drafts and grooms a youngster it feels comfortable with, Forte has the tools to keep the Jets offense humming for the time being.

 

Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.

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