GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In a move that made sense from the moment the Chicago Bears told Matt Forte they would not re-sign him, the Green Bay Packers have expressed an interest in the veteran running back, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Packers expressing interest in Bears free-agent RB Matt Forte, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2016
The Packers can't sign Forte until Wednesday, when the new league year opens at 4 p.m. ET, but they can engage in talks with Forte’s agent, Adisa Bakari.
Although it would be out of character for Packers general manager Ted Thompson to make an immediate splash -- or even a ripple -- in the early stages of free agency, Forte is an intriguing prospect because of his versatility as both a ball carrier and a receiver out of the backfield. That would make him seemingly a good fit for the Packers’ offense.
The Packers have made no secret about their desire to light a fire under Eddie Lacy, who has been instructed to lose weight this offseason. Also, Lacy’s primary backup, James Starks, also is scheduled to become a free agent on Wednesday.
Forte has been both productive and durable. He has missed only eight games in his eight-year career with the Bears, although three of those came last season when he rushed for 898 yards to end a run of three straight 1,000-yard seasons (and four in a five-year stretch).
Last offseason, Thompson did not sign a single free agent who played for another team. In fact, the Packers were the only team in the league that didn’t add a single player off another team in free agency last year.
However, he did make a successful signing with another former Bears player, Julius Peppers, in 2014. A person familiar with Peppers said last month at the scouting combine that Peppers was trying to recruit Forte to the Packers.
Like most deals, it will come down to money. Thompson might not be willing to spend much for an aged running back, and Forte might end up with more lucrative offers from other teams.
Thompson already has re-signed four of his own free agents, the latest being restricted free agent guard Lane Taylor on Tuesday, in what perhaps is a sign that he’s trying to get as many of his own players done so that he can make a move or two when free agency opens.