The biggest NFL news of the day is that Matt Forte isn't going to be re-signed by the Chicago Bears. After eight NFL seasons, all in the Windy City, it appears that Forte will be playing for a new team in the 2016 season.
For whatever reason, Forte might be one of the most underrated and under-appreciated running backs of the past decade. He has been one of the best dual-threat backs since joining the league in 2008, amassing 12,718 total yards and 64 touchdowns. Vikings fans are very familiar with his work: 12 percent of his career yardage has come against Minnesota.
Forte has been incredibly durable as well. Even after missing three games this past season, he has only missed eight in his entire career. Even though I have heartily cheered against his team for the past eight years, it's hard not to appreciate and respect Forte's no-nonsense demeanor and professionalism. Forte was the one consistent and productive mainstay on an offense that was otherwise plagued by controversy, injuries, and upheaval during his time in Chicago. I certainly won't miss having to face Forte twice a year.
But what if I could cheer for Forte 16 games a year? Wouldn't he theoretically be a better fit for the Vikings offense than Adrian Peterson? AP has never been a reliable pass catcher and Forte is one of the best. Forte would probably be a lot cheaper too.
I'm sure some of you have at least entertained the thought after you heard today's news. Allow me to offer my opinion on the matter:
While I believe Forte might actually be a really good fit in the Vikings offense, this isn't going to happen for all sorts of reasons. First of all, Forte just turned 30, which is traditionally the beginning of the end for most running backs. Yes, Forte is still about nine months younger than Peterson, but Forte is also not a cyborg. I think Forte has at least a couple good seasons left but he is coming off career lows in rushing and receiving yards.
Forte might still command a decent amount for salary on the open market but it still won't even be close to what the Vikings are paying Peterson, right? Actually, the pay gap might not be as big as you think. Minnesota is on the hook to pay AP $11 million this season, which is still relatively close to the $9.2 million cap hit Forte had last year. (In 2017 that number jumps up to $18 million, which the Vikings shouldn't and won't pay, which is why I think next season is likely AP's last in Minnesota, but that's another subject for another time.)
Besides, if the Vikings really want a running back that can catch passes out of the backfield and keep defenses honest, they already have Jerick McKinnon. I'd be very surprised if Jet wasn't a bigger part of the offense in 2016--he and Peterson have the chance to be a lethal 1-2 combo next year.
So before any of you even start to go down this path, let me cut you off at the pass. Forte won't be a Viking. End of story. If you want a former member of the Bears to help the Vikings offense out next season, you should probably keep your Alshon Jeffery hopes alive instead.
Even though this move likely means that Chicago is trying to free up money to re-sign their big wide receiver. How much longer is it until the draft again?