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Matt Forte: No offer from Bears ‘hard pill to swallow’

Running back Matt Forte signed with the Jets. (AP)

In a conference call with the New York media on Monday morning, running back Matt Forte said he was surprised that he didn’t receive a contract offer from the Bears, describing it as a “hard pill to swallow.”

The Jets signed Forte to a three-year, $12 million contract, including $9 million guaranteed, on the first day of free agency last week.

The Bears met with Forte in early February to inform him that he would not be re-signed. General manager Ryan Pace later clarified at the NFL Scouting Combine that Forte was not offered a contract.

“It was a decision to move on,” Pace said.

Forte said he felt “really blindsided” by the Bears’ decision.

“I figured they’d at least offer me something in the mid-to-low range in the free-agent market,” Forte said on the conference call. “For them to tell you they don’t want you back, it’s a hard pill to swallow. That’s been your team the whole time. I got drafted there. But you roll with the punches and move on.”

Pace and coach John Fox also said at the combine that it was decision reached in part because of their confidence in young running backs, Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey.

But the Bears still pursued Broncos running back C.J. Anderson in free agency. The Bears reportedly offered Anderson, a restricted free agent, a more lucrative deal than the four-year, $18 million offer sheet that he signed with Dolphins.

Forte, who spent eight seasons with the Bears, said during the conference call that the Buccaneers and Cowboys also pursued him in free agency. He described the Packers’ and Patriots’ interest only as “minor.”

Forte said the Jets showed the “strongest interest” throughout the free-agency process.

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Email: ajahns@suntimes.com