Chicago Bears Rumors and Free Agent News: Matt Forte Return Possible? Alshon Jeffery Likely, Martellus Bennett Trade Option?

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Jan 22, 2016 02:12 PM EST
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Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) rushes during the first quarter on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis."

The Chicago Bears could move on from Matt Forte this offseason, as the longtime running back is hitting free agency and may not get a new deal from the team. The Bears are expected to retain Alshon Jeffery, while Martellus Bennett could be a trade target if the team re-signs Zach Miller.

Forte's status with the team has been up in the air since last year, as the Bears did not engage in contract talks with the running back about an extension. Forte dealt with injuries this season and is now at the age of 30, which is when most running backs start to break down. Forte has been one of the most productive backs in the league over his career, but his price tag could be too high for what the Bears want to do moving forward.

Forte likely will be a prime target for teams on the free agent market and that could be an issue with him returning to the Bears. Another factor is the fact that Jeremy Langford played well during his rookie season while Forte was dealing with an injury and the Bears could consider giving him the chance to start next season. Forte spoke with the Associated Press towards the end of the season and said that there is "nothing really to hope for" regarding a new deal with the Bears.

Forte expressed interest in staying in Chicago, but that the team has not said anything back after he tried to engage in contract talks last year. While that doesn't mean there is no chance the Bears will sign Forte, it's likely they will let him test the market to see what is out there first. If Forte's market doesn't develop and he ends up settling for a short term, inexpensive deal, the Bears could try and retain him, but right now that is looking unlikely.

Jeffery is more likely of the two to return, as the wideout has shown that he has elite talent at the position and is still relatively young at 25. Jeffery dealt with injuries this season and only played in nine games, but the Bears likely will try and keep him on a new deal. According to Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune, it would be a "surprise" if the Bears to not end up keeping Jeffery into next season. Jeffery had 54 catches in nine games this season and over the previous two years he combined for 17 TD catches.

Zach Miller is a free agent for the Bears this year and if the team brings him back on a deal, there is a chance they could shop Martellus Bennett in trades. Bennett finished the season on IR and was not as productive as he was in 2014. Bennett also reportedly was unhappy with his role on the team and that could lead to a trade this offseason.

Check here for more on the Bears and free agency.

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