Two years ago, the Green Bay Packers signed an aging free agent that just left the Chicago Bears. That player was Julius Peppers and that deal has worked out remarkably well for Green Bay.
Now, with another older, but still productive Bear getting ready to hit the market — Matt Forte — Packers general manager Ted Thompson should get bold and offer the still talented star a chance at a super bowl ring in Green Bay.
It was announced just days ago that the Bears informed Forte they were not going to re-sign him and it’s understandable. They have a talented, young back behind him in Jeremy Langford that proved he’s ready to be the starter.
Forte is also aging. He’s over 30 now and that’s not a good number for running backs. Yet, if the former Tulane standout can find the right team that will use him effectively, then there should be more than enough tread left on the tires.
That’s why I believe the Packers would be a perfect fit for Forte and why they should make a serious run at acquiring him when NFL free agency begins next month.
Sure, the Packers still have Eddie Lacy. But, after looking like a key piece to a potential title team, there are questions abound about his weight and whether or not he can keep it under control.
Yet, even if Lacy gets back to who he was a year or two ago (even last year he had his good moments), the Packers could still use Forte, who is an elite pass catcher out of the backfield that still has a penchant for making big plays.
In 2016, Forte did battle some injury issues but played 13 games and finished with 1,287 total yards from scrimmage with 898 rushing and 389 receiving on 44 receptions. He also scored seven total touchdowns.
And even though Forte didn’t touch the ball as much as he had in the past, he still had a solid yards per carry average at 4.1 and had 8.8 yards per reception, which was his best number in that category since 2011.
Certainly, if the Packers did get Forte, it would mean the end of James Starks in Green Bay, but there is no doubt that the two-time Pro Bowler would be a big upgrade over the former Buffalo product that has turned into a solid back the Packers, but really isn’t starting material.
Of course in order for this to happen, Thompson would have to radically change his thinking — there is also one key difference between Forte and Peppers. Forte is a free agent, Peppers was waived. That means when the Packers signed Peppers, it did not affect the compensatory draft process, cause it does not count as a signed free agent since the player was waived.
Forte, on the other hand, would be included in the compensatory formula because he is going to be an unrestricted free agent. That may not seem like a big deal, but to Thompson it is. The Packers rely regularly on compensatory selections and should get a couple this year for the losses of Davon House and Tramon Williams.
Green Bay could have a chance to get some more next off-season if players like Mike Neal, Nick Perry and Casey Hayward all sign elsewhere, so that is something that could deter the Packers from signing Forte.
However, at some point, you need to take a risk and sell off a small part of the future for the present. I understand how important each and every draft pick is, but wouldn’t Forte for two years be worth parting with a potential 5th or 6th round compensatory pick?
With Forte, the Packers offense would just be that much more deadly. And with Jordy Nelson set the return, things are already looking up.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has never had a back to throw to quite like Forte and the easy dump passes that the talented runner routinely turns into eight and 10 yards gains could do wonders for the Green Bay offense.
Forte and Lacy would also form the perfect duo. Lacy is the big, power back, while Forte can do just about everything else, including line up at receiver from time-to-time.
It may seem like a pipe dream and I don’t expect Thompson to spend any of his $23 million in cap space on big-name free agent. But, if there was one player he might be willing to spend on, my guess is it would be Forte.
In the past, Thompson has signed Peppers and Charles Woodson. So when he does go after free agents, he goes after great players and in my opinion, Forte can still be a great player.
As I said, I don’t expect it to happen, but it sure is fun to think about Forte tormenting the Bears, while wearing the Green and Gold of Green Bay.