The Chicago Bears have Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery hitting free agency this offseason and there is a chance that the team will not keep both players. Jeffery is likely to return, while Forte could be allowed to walk after a productive career in Chicago.
The Bears are coming into the offseason after missing the playoffs again and that could mean changes on the roster for 2016. Forte and Jeffery are the top free agents hitting the market for the Bears, while Zach Miller, Jacquizz Rodgers, Rob Housler and Shea McClellin are also free agents. The Bears are likely going to try and keep Jeffery on a new contract and if that doesn't work out, the team can use the franchise tag on the wide receiver.
Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune writes that he would be "very surprised" if the Bears do not bring back Jeffery next season. Jeffery dealt with injuries this year and played in just nine games for the Bears, but he showed over the previous two seasons that he has elite talent at the position. Jeffery is just 25 and he is one of the top playmakers in the league at his position. Jeffery put up 54 catches in nine games this year and over the previous two seasons he had at least 85 catches for 1100 yards, including 1421 yards two years ago. Jeffery has combined for 21 touchdowns over the past three seasons and is a huge part of the Bears offense.
Forte is hitting the market and there is a good chance the Bears do not bring back the running back for 2016. The team did not engage in contract extension talks with Forte last year and the RB said to the Associated Press that there is "nothing really to hope for" about a new contract. While that doesn't mean there is no chance Forte will return, right now it is looking unlikely. Forte is 30 and with Jeremy Langford stepping up while Forte was injured this season, the Bears could consider giving Langford the chance to start. The Bears and Forte could talk about a short term or one-year deal depending on how the market develops for the running back.
The Bears have the number 11 pick in the draft this year and most projections have the team going after a defensive player. The Chicago Sun Times writes that the team should target a linebacker at number 11 to put alongside Pernell McPhee on defense. Some players the team could consider include Myles Jack, Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland. Those three are considered to be some of the top defensive players in this draft class and at least one likely will be available when the Bears pick. The Giants pick one spot ahead and also could go after a linebacker.