Chicago Bears Rumors: Matt Forte Return Unlikely, Alshon Jeffery Free Agent Priority, Martellus Bennett Trade Option? Shaq Lawson Draft Target?

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Jan 19, 2016 10:31 AM EST
Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears
Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears rushes to the outside during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field on December 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The 49ers defeated the Bears 26-20. "

The Chicago Bears have Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte hitting free agency this offseason and while Jeffery is expected to return, Forte may not for the 2016 season. The Bears may consider players like Shaq Lawson and Myles Jack in the draft, while Martellus Bennett could be a trade target.

The Bears are coming off of a 6-10 season and they will have the chance to add a top prospect in the draft with the 11th overall pick. The team likely will look towards the defensive side of the ball, as that unit struggled with consistency this season and could use some talent upgrades. Names like Robert Nkemdiche, Shaq Lawson, DeForest Buckner, Myles Jack and Vernon Hargreaves could be potential options for the Bears with the pick.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Bears' "most glaring need" is for another pass rusher to put alongside Pernell McPhee and those players mentioned above could be potential targets. The Bears also have other concerns, including free agency and which players they will bring back for 2016. The team is going to do all they can to keep Alshon Jeffery even after the wide receiver dealt with injuries this past season, while Zach Miller also could be a target to return. Matt Forte is unlikely to come back, as the team has Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey ready to take over moving forward.

Forte is unlikely to return after the team did not engage in contract talks with the running back over the past year. Forte has been a productive player for the Bears during his career and while the running back wants to return, his age and the makeup of the roster could keep that from happening. The Bears liked how Jeremy Langford played in place of Forte while the running back was injured during the season and with Forte moving past the age of 30, the team may feel that it's time to move on.

Forte spoke about his future with the Associated Press earlier in the season and said that there's "nothing really to hope for" regarding a new contract with the Bears. Forte said that he is "hopeful" that he will return, but right now that is looking unlikely. Jeffery is more likely to return, as he is just 25 and has shown that he has elite talent at the WR position. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune writes that he would be "surprised" if the Bears did not bring back Jeffery.

Martellus Bennett finished the season on IR and had a down year production wise and he potentially could be a trade target. Bennett was reportedly unhappy with his role on the team and if the Bears bring back Miller, expect Bennett to get shopped.

Check here for more on the Bears, Forte and Jeffery.

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