The Chicago Bears are heading into 2016 after a losing season and the future status for players like Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery are uncertain for the team. Forte and Jeffery will be free agents, while Bennett had an inconsistent season and potentially could be released or traded in the offseason.
The Bears came into the season with high expectations after hiring John Fox, but the team is out of the playoffs and now have a number of questions heading into the offseason. Jeffery is heading towards free agency and is expected to return, but there is always a chance his price could be too high for the Bears on the open market. Jeffery has been dealing with injuries all season and he has now been placed on injured reserve, according to an announcement from the team.
While Jeffery is likely to return to Chicago, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett face more uncertain futures for the Bears and it is possible that both players will be elsewhere next season. Forte is going to be a free agent after the season, while Bennett will be making a $5.085 million salary next year. The Bears can save around that much by getting rid of Bennett and that could be a likely move for the team.
Forte was mentioned in trade talks throughout the summer and the season for the Bears and the while the running back has said that he wants to return, a new contract is looking unlikely. According to the Associated Press, Forte said last week that he wants to return, but that there "is not much to hope for right now," as the Bears have not engaged in any contract talks with Forte. Forte approached the team about an extension earlier in the year, but the Bears were not interested in making a deal at that point.
Forte has been one of the most productive running backs in football over the past few years, but he has had a lot of wear and tear and now that he is 30, the team may not want to sign him to a new deal. Jeremy Langford stepped in when Forte was injured this season and played well and that could give the Bears confidence that Langford could take over if Forte is not signed back. Forte has 822 rushing yards this season and over 1000 total yards and according to Jeff Dickerson at ESPN, the chances of Forte coming back look "bleak."
Dickerson writes that Jeffery's status for next year is "fuzzy," but that it's likely he will return if the Bears make an effort to sign him. Dickerson calls Bennett's situation "complicated," while Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer writes "it's hard to see" Bennett coming back. Dickerson writes that there "should be a trade market" for Bennett and that he may not return in 2016. The emergence of Zach Miller could make it easier for the team to let Bennett go, as the Bears could re-sign Miller for a cheaper rate than what Bennett would make in 2016.