Confident they had figured out the running back position before the 2016 season, the Bears let former starter Matt Forte walk in free agency. Jeremy Langford was to be the “guy”. Then something changed- along came Jordan Howard.
The Bears have been a team that have had great success at the running back position. They had the second most productive running back in history with Walter Payton (this writer thinks he is “the” most productive player at any player at any position ever). They had the great Gayle Sayers as well. Sayers was a smooth star and enshrined in Canton as well.
You can’t forget guys like Neal Anderson and Matt Forte either. Many of Chicago’s running backs have been productive and they all helped Chicago pile up the yards and win games. The history of Chicago running backs is one of the NFL’s greatest.
One of those famed running backs, Forte, was at the end of his contract following the 2015 season. He was not only very productive but he was very popular and one of the better backs to come along in years. He had shown little in regards to slowing down and he was willing to take less money to remain in Chicago. That appeared to be the best deal for the Bears. Keep Forte and keep moving forward.
But General Manager Ryan Pace had a different plan. That plan was to not have Forte back. Instead, they told the long time star that they didn’t want him back and let him walk. Soon after, Forte signed with the New York Jets.
So why would the Bears let a perfectly good, healthy player who had produced so well for them over the years walk? Forte had plenty left in the tank didn’t he?
Chicago felt that they had a reliable starter in second year running back Jeremy Langford. Langford had shown flashes in 2015 so the Bears appeared to have felt comfortable having him as their starter.
But they were still looking for someone else. A backup, perhaps. Maybe a starter? It seemed they didn’t think they had it all with Langford.