Ryan Pace: Bears never offered Matt Forte reduced contract to stay

INDIANAPOLIS -- Veteran running back Matt Forte did not receive a contract offer to re-sign with the Chicago Bears, even at a discounted rate, general manager Ryan Pace told reporters Wednesday at the NFL combine.

Forte on numerous occasions expressed a desire to finish his career with the Bears.

“We talked about it, and these are thorough, thoughtful discussions,” Pace said. “And honestly, emotional sometimes. Really it was just, hey, again, the confidence we have in our younger backs and treating him with respect. We met with him after the season, and I promised him, ‘Hey, when we come to a decision, we’re going to tell you as soon as possible for you and your agent,’ and that’s how it played out.”

Pace explained that the decision to let Forte walk was based on his belief in the younger running backs on the roster -- in particular 2015 fourth-round draft pick Jeremy Langford, who had 816 all-purpose yards in his rookie season.

“We like our younger backs,” Pace said. “We see them as ascending players. I think Stan Drayton has done a great job with that position group. Part of this a lot of times, guys, is the confidence we have in player development with our coaches. That’s huge, and that’s huge for the health of a franchise in developing your younger players. Sometimes that involves some tough decisions along the way. But I am happy with those guys. They’re ascending young players. That doesn’t mean we can’t still add to that group, but right now we feel good about it.”