With the 2016 NFL free agency period to set to begin at 4 p.m. on March 9, rumors are starting to come out regarding the New England Patriots and their potential signings. Traditionally, the Patriots have never been a team to overpay for the top free agent in the prime of their career. Instead of overspending, they have signed talented veterans for cheap towards the end of their careers. While the team has never really valued the running back position, there is a chance that former Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte could be signing with the Patriots.
At 30-years-old, Forte is getting up there in age for a running back in the NFL. While 30 is usually the age where most running backs “lose it,” Forte was actually productive last year with the Bears. Injuries shortened his season to only 13 games, but Forte still managed to rush for 898 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 44 receptions for 389 yards and three touchdowns. The emergence of young running back Jeremy Langford also took carries away from Forte, but he was still an impact player when given the opportunity.
Forte to the Patriots? Weddle to the Steelers? Benjamin to the Texans?— ESPN (@espn) March 4, 2016
A must-sign free agent for all 32 teams: https://t.co/Y5r3nozQ93
While those numbers can be viewed as declining, Forte is exactly what the Patriots want in a running back. With quarterback Tom Brady still playing better than ever, the team will still look to pass first. As an excellent receiving back, Forte would give Brady yet another threat on an offense that is already one of the best in the NFL.
Forte’s running ability is also much better than anything the Patriots have had in recent years. Instead of opposing defenses knowing that the Patriots are going to throw the football the majority of the time, Forte would make them honest and respect the running game. For a team that is built to win next season, he would also provide another important veteran presence.
As ESPN notes, Forte should be the top target in free agency for the Patriots.
“Two of the Patriots’ top needs are running back and receiver, so why not sign a player who can help fill both voids in one package? Forte is listed as a RB on the roster, but his excellent pass-catching skills make him almost wide receiver-like. I’m envisioning him on the field at the same time as Dion Lewis. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could scheme up some innovative stuff.”
During his time in Chicago, Forte was the main threat at running back. In a league where many running backs are in a committee, Forte was always on the field for the Bears. Since the Bears were not exactly creative with their use of Forte, Bill Belichick and the Patriots could find new and innovative ways to blend him into the offense. Sets with Dion Lewis would make a lot of sense, and Forte could excel in ways that he never has before with Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and the rest of the Patriots offense.
Yahoo Sports compares the possibility of signing Forte to when the Patriots traded for 30-year-old Cory Dillon in 2014.
“It’s too easy to make the Corey Dillon comparison, right? Dillon, who had a great career with the Cincinnati Bengals, had a down 2003, then came to the Patriots the next offseason in a trade. In 2004, at age 30, he had a 1,605-yard season and the Patriots won a Super Bowl. Forte, at age 31 after a down season at the end of a great career with the Chicago Bears, makes a ton of sense for the Patriots. And New England doesn’t even have to trade anything to get him, because he’s a free agent.”
With a few days until the 2016 free agency period begins, rumors are going to continue to involve the New England Patriots and running back Matt Forte. While price is going to be a huge factor, Forte may make too much sense for the Patriots not to sign him for the homestretch of Tom Brady’s career.
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