The Chicago Bears have had a tough season and heading into 2016, two of the top offensive players on the team will be free agents with Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte hitting the market. Jeffery is likely to return to the Bears, but Forte could be out of Chicago after the team drafted running back Jeremy Langford this year.
Forte is heading towards free agency after this season and after being mentioned in trade rumors during the offseason and during the regular season, it's unlikely he will be with the Bears in 2016. Forte has been one of the most-worked backs in the league over the past few years and since he is 30, the age most RBs start to fade, it's unlikely the Bears will meet his contract demands. Forte told the Associated Press last week that there "isn't much hope" regarding a new contract and that could mean Week 17 is his final game in a Chicago uniform.
Forte was injured in the game on Sunday for the Bears and finished with 11 carries for 54 yards, giving him 822 yards in 12 games this season. Forte has put up at least 1000 yards rushing for the Bears in four of the last five seasons and while the team ideally would like to keep Forte, the money Forte wants, his age and the current RB situation for the team may keep that from happening for 2016. Jeremy Langford came in as a rookie and performed well while Forte was injured this season and that could give the Bears confidence that he could take over as the starter heading into 2016.
After Forte left with a back injury, Langford and Ka'Deem Carey for the bulk of the carries and that could be the main RB duo for the team next season. Langford finished with 83 yards on Sunday, while Carey had two touchdowns and that symbolically could be a changing of the guard for the Bears. Kyle Long was asked about the Forte situation after the game on Sunday, but he said that he understands the NFL is "a business," even if he would like to "play with Matt forever."
Forte had wanted to get a new contract done before the season, but the Bears did not engage in serious talks, which led to some in the media to report that the team was considering a trade with Forte. Forte dealt with injuries this season and that likely hurt his trade value and with the way things have gone regarding a new contract, it's likely his Bears career is over.
Jeffery is also heading into free agency, but he is more likely to return to the Bears over Forte. Jeffery has dealt with injuries this season, but he is just 25 and has shown over the previous two seasons that he can be healthy and productive as a WR. The Bears also have a decision to make on Martellus Bennett, as he has had a disappointing season and will make $5.085 million next year. According to Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune, "it's hard to see" the Bears bringing back Bennett next season.