The hottest name on the NFL Free Agent market is recently released Bears running back Matt Forte. And one destination for the 30-year-old free agent is with former teammate Brandon Marshall and the New York Jets.
At least, that’s what ESPN Jets blogger Rich Cimini thinks…if the price is right.
“Signing a 30-year-old running back (with 2,035 career carries) would seem to contradict the Jets’ desire to get faster in the backfield,” Cimini wrote. “But Matt Forte is a unique back and I think the Jets will be monitoring him as free agency starts to heat up. Forte’s days as a No. 1 back are over, but he’d be a nice fit if they lose third-down back Bilal Powell.”
Cimini likened the potential signing to 2010 when the New York Jets, one win away from reaching the Super Bowl the year before, signed veteran running back LaDanian Tomlinson. Tomlinson, like Forte, became a free agent that year after the team that drafted him, the San Diego Chargers, allowed him to test the free agent market. The Jets hoped his veteran leadership and pass catching ability out of the backfield would provide the tools needed to make it to the promised land – and in fact almost did as New York reached the AFC Championship game for a second straight season that year.
“Like Tomlinson, Forte is a high-character individual, and he’d fit nicely into the Jets’ locker room. He has two allies in the organization — college scouting director Rex Hogan, a former Bears scout, and former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Forte is a pro’s pro.”
Unfortunately for Jets fans hoping to cash in on the Matt Forte sweepstakes, there are two issues undermining the team’s attempts to nab this coveted free agent. One, is that the Jets will have heavy competition for Forte’s services. As reported by The Inquisitr, the Green Bay Packers are among a handful of teams that will be clamoring to sign the 30-year-old running back.
In fact, it’s likely that Forte could end up with a different team in the AFC East – namely the New England Patriots – this according to the Bean Town Beat.
“The consensus for Patriots fans and members of the media seems to be that Forte and the Patriots are a match made in heaven. Forte is a veteran looking for a team that can win rather than to simply cash out one last time, and his career to this point has shown he is a reliable back.”
The other factor working against the Jets landing Matt Forte is simply money. While Forte won’t command the type of salary that DeMarco Murray did last year, New York’s cap situation is not the same as it was a year ago either.
First off, they have to re-sign veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, a top priority for a team that just missed the playoffs despite winning 10 games last season. And while “Fitz Magic” won’t command over-the-top numbers, the consensus is still a contract in the $8-$12 million guaranteed range.
Then there is Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mo Wilkerson who is set to become a free agent if the Jets don’t place the franchise tag on him before March 7th. And while everyone around the league expects Wilkerson to be franchised, the move will still account for almost $15 million on the Jets already thin cap space.
Likely cap casualties will result including the potential release of cornerback Antonio Cromartie who was set to make $8 million this year. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Darrell Revis meanwhile, may be asked to renegotiate their salaries to accommodate the team’s shaky budget for 2016.
What do you think? Will the Jets be able to sign free agent Matt Forte?
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]