The Chicago Bears last week made the official decision not to re-sign running back Matt Forte. It was a bold move to cut a player who is second only to Walter Payton in nearly every statistical category for running backs in franchise history.
At the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine today, head coach John Fox admitted that Forte, who turned 30 in December, still has plenty left in the tank.
"I don’t think Matt’s football [career] is over," Fox said. "I think that’s part of the reason we were pretty early and honest with him about moving forward. I think it helps him and I think Matt Forte will play more football. We wanted to give him that opportunity.”
While Forte is still a quality player, the Bears' decision to move on had more to do with the two young running backs waiting in the wings: Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey.
"What allowed us to make that decision, albeit a very difficult decision, was the confidence we had in our younger running backs," said Fox. "I think any time a guy with Matt Forte's reputation, what he's been through with the organization, such a great, great pro, was for us in just the one year we had him and has been for a long time, it's never, never an easy decision. But at the end of the day, I think it was best for him — the timing — and best for us."
The Bears appear very comfortable with a backfield committee approach of Langford and Carey, despite the fact they have just 227 combined carries during their brief NFL careers.
"Those guys earned that. We made decisions last week that we were able to make because we have great confidence in our young backs," Fox said. "What that workload is or what that definition of their role is will be up to them and how they perform and how they prepare and what they put on the field when we start work."
While Langford is presumed to be the starter next year, it appears Carey could push for a substantial chunk of those backfield carries.
“The way [Carey] carries his pads [is impressive]," said Fox. "We’re here and sometimes a lot gets put into height, weight, speed, 40, and a lot of times it’s hard to measure what’s behind that left nipple and between your ears. I think he’s a guy that after contact is pretty special. Something that sticks out for me, I enjoy watching him run, even looking at some cut-ups recently, there were a few of those, a couple in St. Louis that I recall.”
In that Week 10 contest against the Rams, Carey had 14 carries for 56 yards, both of which were career highs for the second-year back out of Arizona.