NFL Rumors: Analyzing Buzz on Matt Forte and More Free Agents

Michelle BrutonFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2016

Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half at Soldier Field. The Lions won 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

With the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 9, comes the opening of free agency, which can be either like Christmas Day for fans of teams with lots of cap space or just another Wednesday for teams that prefer to add through the draft. 

After a three-day legal-tampering period was introduced in 2013, the rumors and speculation begin reaching a fever pitch days before free agency even opens.

More than a week out from the new league year, there are already plenty of murmurings and reports to sift through regarding veterans such as running back Matt Forte, tight end Zach Miller and more. 

Let's break down the latest buzz about impending free agents. 


New England Patriots "investigating" Matt Forte

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

Though veteran running back Matt Forte may be approaching the wrong side of 30, he could still be a valuable addition to some team's backfield this offseason. 

One such team that is contemplating jumping into the Forte sweepstakes is the New England Patriots, per a report by the Boston Globe's Ben Volin

One of the worst-kept secrets in Indianapolis [at the NFL Scouting Combine] was that the Patriots were looking hard at running backs — which makes sense, given how poorly the running game struggled at the end of last season, and that LeGarrette Blount is a free agent and Dion Lewis is coming off a torn ACL.

It is not head coach Bill Belichick's or the Patriots' style to use a feature back and give him 30 carries a game; rather, New England prefers to use a committee approach to its backfield. 

Forte, with his potential to improve the screen game and his pass-catching ability, could be a strong addition to New England's backfield. 

"The Patriots don’t like to pay more than $1 million or so on running backs, but this might be the year to splurge a little on a veteran," Volin wrote.

The Patriots may not have to go far out of their comfort zone to land Forte; according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, a source indicated Forte would be hard-pressed to command more than $3 million per season. 


Miami Dolphins have interest in Zach Miller

Speaking of potential former Chicago Bears, tight end Zach Miller is scheduled to become a free agent next week, and the Bears appear to be allowing him to test the open market. 

One team that is interested in Miller's services, according to Biggs, is the Miami Dolphins. 

"I’m hearing the Dolphins could have interest in Miller and that would make sense for head coach Adam Gase," Biggs reported. Gase, of course, was the Bears' offensive coordinator prior to accepting the head coaching job with Miami. 

If you're feeling like the Dolphins just signed a tight end in free agency, you're right; Jordan Cameron signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Dolphins that was supposed to take him through the 2016 season, per Spotrac

However, Cameron has a $7.5 million price tag this year, and the 27-year-old veteran had just 386 yards and three touchdowns with the Dolphins last season. If the Dolphins cut Cameron loose, Miller could be a replacement with a healthier cap hit. 


Oakland Raiders will try to "steal" Eric Weddle away from San Diego Chargers

This report from Bleacher Report's own Jason Cole is a juicy one: The Oakland Raiders won't "let money get in the way" of going after the players they want in free agency, and the player they want in particular is safety Eric Weddle: 

Oakland has a whopping $74.1 million in salary-cap space burning a hole in its pocket, and in addition to looking to bolster its offensive line, the team is planning to improve its secondary as well, per Cole.

Only one team has more salary-cap space to work with than Oakland, and that's the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have about $74.6 million in cap space, per Spotrac.  

However, Weddle may not be interested in the money that the Raiders try to throw at him. 

According to NFL Network's Rand Getlin, Weddle has three priorities:

The Raiders may be a team on the rise, but they still went 7-9 in 2015. Needless to say, they're a few years off from Super Bowl contention. Weddle would help…if they can court him.