Could Packers make a play for Forte?

Stu Courtney
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Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) drags along Green Bay Packers linebackers Nick Perry and Nate Palmer during their game  in November.

Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears are parting ways, and already there is speculation that the veteran running back could look north toward Green Bay.

Forte, who ranks second only to Walter Payton in career rushing yards for the Bears with 8,602 in eight seasons, announced the news Friday on his Instagram account.

“Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end,” Forte wrote. “I was informed earlier this week from the GM (Ryan Pace) 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!”

The Bears confirmed the move in a statement from Pace, who called it the kind of decision that's "never easy, especially given what Matt has meant to our team and community. We have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Matt is one of the all-time great Bears and did an excellent job for us on and off the field last season. He was a tremendous teammate. We thank him for his professionalism and wish him the very best as he continues his career."

Forte rushed for 898 yards last season while splitting time with rookie Jeremy Langford and second-year man Ka’Deem Carey. He missed three games with a knee sprain.

Forte also is an adept pass catcher (44 receptions for 389 yards last season, after setting an NFL record for running backs with 102 receptions in 2014).

Would the Packers be interested in signing Forte? Bears columnist Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that Forte would be “an ideal fit” in Green Bay, in light of Eddie Lacy’s disappointing season and James Starks being a free agent. Packers general manager Ted Thompson moved quickly two years ago to sign former Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.

Arthur Arkush of tweeted that Forte to Green Bay "could make a lot of sense."

On the other hand, Forte turned 30 in December and could demand more on the open market than the Packers are willing to pay for an aging running back. Other possible destinations for Forte include the Seattle Seahawks, who are losing Marshawn Lynch to retirement, the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.

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