NFC North Q&A: Will Bears regret losing Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett?

Today’s question: Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett are former Pro Bowl players, but the Bears waived goodbye to both in the offseason. Forte is the second-most productive tailback in Bears’ franchise history. And Bennett is only one season removed from catching a career-high 90 balls. Do you think the Bears will regret losing both Forte and Bennett?

Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Packers reporter: From Clay Matthews to Julius Peppers to B.J. Raji, just about every Packers defensive player you’d talk to during Bears week would mention Forte as 1A and Bennett as 1B in terms of the most challenging players to defend on their offense. Very few players are irreplaceable in the NFL, but in terms of impacting how opposing teams devise a game plan, the loss of Forte and Bennett will, at the very least, change the way defensive coordinators prepare for the Bears.

Mike Rothstein, Detroit Lions reporter: Initially, yes, but as we all know in this league, it’s about finding youth to replenish. And if you’re concerned about possible production issues, it’s better to get rid of a guy earlier than later. So when it comes to Forte, the Bears made a calculated decision that might not pay off in the short term but could immensely aid in the development of Jeremy Langford, Ka'Deem Carey and, most importantly, rookie Jordan Howard. The Bears will regret getting rid of Bennett, though, since they don’t have the obvious replacement at tight end on the roster, and he provided enough attention to keep teams from focusing too much on wide receivers. Zach Miller could fill that role, but he’s likely not an upgrade.

Ben Goessling, Minnesota Vikings reporter: I think it’s very possible they will. Yes, Forte is 30, but he has been such a constant presence in the Bears’ offense for so long that it’s hard to imagine how they’re going to replace all the ways in which he became a calming presence for Jay Cutler. Jeremy Langford can do some of the same things, but will he be able to deliver the kind of consistency Forte did? And while Bennett certainly had his detractors, he caught 90 passes in 2014. There’s not another tight end in the division who has produced so consistently as a receiver. And I think the departures certainly could have a negative effect on Cutler.