Would Matt Forte Realistically Sign with the Green Bay Packers?
NFL free agency is rapidly approaching and the Chicago Bears made an announcement recently that surprised few when it was finally made- Matt Forte would not return to the Bears in 2016. It was something that a lot of Bears fans hated when the rumblings first started but grew to accept and mostly understand by the time that decision was made. The Bears were ready to get younger and a 30-year-old running back was not going to get a contract extension when they appeared to have a young capable (much cheaper) back in Jeremy Langford.
With Forte hitting free agency, the speculation instantly began about where Forte might sign. The two leading possibilities seem to be the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys. Both make a lot of sense for Forte who would be a key piece in both offenses and both have pieces in place to contend for a Super Bowl in 2016. However a third team that many people have discussed and also makes a lot of sense is the Green Bay Packers.
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I didn’t give the Packers much thought at first, they have Eddie Lacy who they aren’t ready to give up on and I didn’t think originally they would spend money on another back. But mostly, I really didn’t think Forte would choose to sign with the Packers. As a long time Bear who loves the city, he would become Darth Vader if he went to the dark side, so there was no reason to seriously consider the speculation. But the more I think about it, the more I think that going to the Packers is a legitimate possibility.
First of all, Forte has stressed he wants to win, and as painful as it might be to say, the Packers have a winning franchise. They keep a lot of classy players on the roster and Forte would fit right in. With the Jordy Nelson injury this year, we saw the Packers struggle offensively at times and it looks like they might need to put a little more talent around Aaron Rodgers. Davante Adams is clearly not the big-time receiver they thought he would be and with Lacy focused more on McGriddles rather than yards, adding a receiving threat in the backfield to give Rodgers a top notch safety valve makes a lot of sense from their perspective.
Was it really necessary to bring up Eddie Lacy’s tweets about food? No. Absolutely not. But if you can find any excuse to embed one of these classics into an article, how can you not? Regardless of Eddie’s love of fast food, his weight issues and down season in 2015 may have the Packers considering adding to their backfield in 2016.
Aaron Rodgers isn’t old, but he’s starting to creep up there in age where the Packers know they can’t afford to have two or three down seasons where they aren’t competing for a Super Bowl. When you have a star like Rodgers at the QB position you need to be competing every year and Ted Thompson and company know this.
I don’t think the Packers would see it as a bonus taking a fan favorite from Chicago. While some teams operate with their rivals in mind, I think the Packers operate trying to put the best team on the field and whether they sign a former Bear or a former Oakland Raider, they don’t care as long as that player can help the franchise. If they feel Forte can help their team, they will target him.
The more interesting and humanistic side to things is Matt Forte. Forte will have more than one option. Odds are multiple teams are going to pitch the former Bear so he is going to be able to choose his team based on his chances to win and opportunity to play.
I don’t think at this point in his career Forte is desperate for 350 touches a season, but he certainly doesn’t want 150 either. If Forte is featured enough in an offense where he sees roughly 250 touches in a season (15 combined rushes and receptions per game), he would be more than satisfied. Being part of a cohesive, winning team is far more important to him than being the workhorse.
The Packers do fit that mold for him, but the better question is whether Forte would sign there as a former Bear. Forte loves Chicago and loves the fans. He’s not stupid, he knows what type of reaction the fans are going to have if he signs with Green Bay. Would Forte sign with the Pack and risk going from hero to zero? The only one who can answer that is Forte.
Based on what Forte has said in the past, if you tried to swim around in his head I think you would find one thing to be true: Forte would indeed sign with the Packers. Let me explain why.
Forte has been very clear about is the fact that he wanted to stay in Chicago but he knows it’s a business and doesn’t hold any grudges against his former team. Some people may see Forte signing with Green Bay completely as a grudge move but if he does I wouldn’t see it that way.
I believe Forte when he says there is no hard feelings with the Bears. He knows it’s a business. That being said, Forte is going to treat his free agency like a business. Forte is going to look at what teams are interested in him and then he’s going to decide what team best fits his skill-set, will give him the ball frequently, and gives him the best chance to win. It will be strictly a business decision. If Green Bay wants him and Forte feels it’s the best place for him, he will sign there.
Will Forte realize how furious the fans will be? Sure. Will he know he will most likely be booed when he plays at Soldier Field? Absolutely. But Forte isn’t dumb. He knows Bears fans are smart football fans. He knows both Jim McMahon and Steve McMichael played for the Packers and are still loved in Chicago. He knows even if the initial reaction from the fans is anger, he knows that it will fade and they will embrace him once again after his career winds down. He knows this because he knows that leaving the Bears in the first place wasn’t his choice.
Free agency is rapidly approaching and it won’t be long until Forte has a new team. It might be the New England Patriots. It might be the Dallas Cowboys. But it might be the Green Bay Packers. That idea might sting for a lot of fans, but they’ll get over it eventually. Because Matt Forte will always be a Bear, even if he isn’t.
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Bill Zimmerman is an editor and featured writer for FanSided‘s BearGogglesOn. Like his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter for more news and interaction.