On Friday, it was announced that the Chicago Bears will not be re-signing Matt Forte this offseason, meaning they will let him become an unrestricted free agent.
"Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end," Forte wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. "I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency. I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history. My only regret is not being able to win a Lombardi trophy for the best fans in all of sports. I'm excited about the next chapter of my NFL career. But, Chicago will always be home. God Bless and Bear Down!"
Forte has had an impressive and underrated NFL career, spending the past eight seasons with the Bears. During that time, he has played in and started 120 games, rushing for 8,602 yards and 45 touchdowns while averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Additionally, he has caught 487 passes for 4,116 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 8.5 yards per reception. The 30-year old running back has made two Pro Bowl appearances in his career, and he was still productive in 2015 as he rushed for 898 yards and four scores in 13 games (averaging 4.1 yards per carry) and caught 44 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns.
The natural question that comes anytime a player like Forte is released goes something like this: "Should/will the Colts be interested?" I doubt the Colts will be too interested in Forte, and the reasoning is really rather simple: I don't think it makes sense financially to pursue another veteran back to add to pair with another veteran back in Frank Gore. Last year, Forte had a cap hit of $9.2 million, while the previous year he was at $7.9 million. He likely won't command that type of money in free agency, but I'd be surprised if he comes cheap enough to warrant consideration from the Colts. In order for a deal with the Colts to make sense financially, Forte would have to come cheap (think an Ahmad Bradshaw-type move), which would almost certainly be because he thinks the Colts could contend - and if that's the reason, you'd think there would be other suitors for him that could have a better chance (like the Patriots). In other words, I don't think the Colts are going to want to pay the type of money Forte might command for a veteran back to pair with the team's other veteran back.
The money is only a hold-up when it comes in light of that second reason, however: the Colts already have Frank Gore in place at running back. Gore will have a $4 million cap hit next season, but more importantly he will be 33 years old when the season starts. If the team wants to add a running back, I wouldn't expect them to target another veteran but rather a younger, change of pace back - though they likely have one already on the roster in Boom Herron. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Colts add a back through the draft with a mid-round pick, but I wouldn't expect them to go out and sign another veteran back like Gore. Forte could provide a nice boost to the backfield and Forte could help out the offense, but Jim Irsay has already said this offseason that the team needs to get younger, and I don't think adding a 30-year old running back to pair with their 33-year old back is what he had in mind. I'm sure the Colts would like to help Gore out and find a player who could take some of the carries (and, as a result, the hits) away from Gore, and I'm not sure if they have that guy yet. But I find it unlikely that the team would seriously pursue Forte in free agency to fill that role.
So in summary, I don't expect the Colts to go after Matt Forte in free agency. He would be a nice addition to the backfield, but considering the other factors, it doesn't seem too likely. Forte will land on his feet and find a nice deal somewhere with a team that could contend in 2016, but it's not likely that it will be in Indianapolis.