While much of the Chicago Bears offseason will be focused on bringing back Alshon Jeffery who is hitting free agency. However, also in need of a new contract will be Matt Forte. The running back has spent his entire career with the Chicago Bears, but that is being put into jeopardy as the veteran has the resume to demand a big contract. If Forte were to depart the Bears, where does the team's run game stand?
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, if Forte departs then Jeremy Langford will take over the starting role. Langford showed promise last season when Forte missed a few games due to a knee injury. He was the team's biggest playmaker at times as both a rushing and pass-catching running back. Ka'Deem Carey would be in the mix for the backup job, but that might not be enough to get the job done in Chicago. The Bears might not be comfortable with depending on such a young rotation with Jay Cutler in need of a solid run game which is where free agency could come into play.
If the Bears are unwilling to pay Forte, they will be unwilling to pay some of the top running backs entering free agency this year. Bear's fans can go ahead and cross players like Doug Martin, Chris Ivory and Lamar Miller off the list. They are considered the best options available and also the most expensive. Yes, they have the type of styles that would fit perfectly with the Bears' offense, but they will simply cost too much to take a risk on.
Instead, the Bears could look at the second-tier options to place with Langford and Carey. Langford showed enough potential in 2015 that getting a high-priced running back is not totally necessary. Good news for Chicago is there are a slew of solid backups also available this year. Ronnie Hillman has a connection with head coach John Fox already. Bilal Powell, Bernard Pierce and James Starks will also be on the market. While none of those options have stats that will blow a person away, they could work well with Langford and Carey.
Forte should not be counted out just yet. The veteran running back told the Chicago Sun-Times that he and general manager Ryan Pace will sit down and discuss options, but that no one should rule out a return just yet. The problem for Forte is that he will not be a priority. Jeffery will be and then the tight end position will get a good look. Forte might not be patient enough to wait around for Chicago and while he would love to return and finish his career with the Bears, he also wants to play and win.