Matt Forte is now up for grabs. The running back announced on Friday that the Chicago Bears would not be retaining him for next season and would officially hit the free agent market. Forte could be considered one of the best available backs this offseason considering his consistent stats and small injury history. As the New York Jets lose all but one of their running backs this offseason, could Forte be the player that brings stability?
The Jets will lose Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley to free agency. That means they only retain Zac Stacy in the rotation and will be in desperate need of adding bodies. Ivory already told the media that he does not believe the Jets intend on re-signing him for the future, so does that open the door for Forte?
According to NJ.com, the Jets will show interest in Forte, but a contract is not likely. Plain and simple, the team cannot afford him which is why they are also out of the market for Ivory and Powell. The Jets enter the offseason cash strapped. The team needs to re-sign Ryan Fizpatrick while retaining two of their biggest defensive players in Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison. That leaves little money for the high-priced contract Forte can command.
If Forte is not an option, who is for New York? Players like Lamar Miller, Doug Martin and James Starks are merely pipe dreams. Once again, they are out of the team's budget. NJ.com believes the Jets will push to re-sign Powell hoping that he cannot command as big of a deal as other backs before hitting the NFL Draft for someone in as early as the second round.
NFL mock drafts have the Jets pegged as a team that could potentially land Ezekiel Elliott or Derrick Henry. Those are the best two options available and they could be groomed nicely into a lead back for the Jets. New York will make their first pick at No.20. While the have other draft needs, the running back position needs to be a priority. Last season proved that when the run game is working, Fitzpatrick plays better. If Elliott gets taken before the Jets make a pick, getting Henry right away is not the worst idea in the world. That would give the Jets a running back familiar with the offense in Powell and young starter to groom for the future.