Running back Matt Forte will be wearing green next season, but it’s not the kind that will make Bears fans feel ill.
Despite being linked to the rival Green Bay Packers since the Bears decided not re-sign him in February, Forte will sign with the New York Jets, a source confirmed Wednesday. Terms of Forte’s deal with the Jets were not immediately known.
The Jets needed to replace running back Chris Ivory, who left in free agency for a five-year, $32 million contract, including $10 million guaranteed, from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On Feb. 12, the Bears announced that Forte would not be re-signed after eight strong seasons. General manager Ryan Pace thanked him in a statement, calling him “one of the all-time great Bears” and “a tremendous teammate.”
Later at the NFL Scouting Combine, Pace and coach John Fox said the decision was made because of their confidence in Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey.
“I don’t think Matt’s football is over,” Fox said Feb. 24. “That’s part of the reason we were pretty early and honest with him about moving forward. It helps him and I think Matt Forte will play more football. We wanted to give him that opportunity.”
Forte, who turned 30 in December, missed three games with a sprained knee ligament last season, but remained very productive. Former offensive coordinator Adam Gase often marveled at Forte’s ability to handle every down and do so much. Forte totaled 1,287 yards last season, which coincidently, is same amount Ivory had in 15 games played.
With the Jets, Forte is reunited with receiver Brandon Marshall, whom the Bears traded away last year primarily for raising problems in former coach Marc Trestman’s final season.
During a radio interview last year, Forte responded to some of Marshall’s criticisms of the Bears, saying “sometimes Brandon couldn’t hold himself accountable” during the 2014 season.
Marshall, though, greeted the news of Forte’s signing on social media with joy, which included an “I wuv you!” directed at Forte on Instagram.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns