Former Bears RB Matt Forte could be Jets' new LaDainian Tomlinson

Matt Forte would be a nice addition as a third-down back, but the Jets won't be a player unless the price is reasonable. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Things are starting to heat up around the NFL -- free agency, roster cuts, draft, etc. The New York Jets have been relatively quiet, but that will change. Continuing our mailbag tradition, we'll continue to tackle key issues.

@RichCimini: Signing a 30-year-old running back (with 2,035 career carries) would seem to contradict the Jets' desire to get faster in the backfield, but Matt Forte is a unique back and I think the Jets will be monitoring him as free agency starts to heat up. Forte's days as a No. 1 back are over, but he'd be a nice fit if they lose third-down back Bilal Powell.

Since breaking in with the Chicago Bears in 2008, Forte has 487 receptions, more than any running back over that span. In 2014, he caught 102 passes -- 102 freaking passes! Sure, he has slowed down a bit, but he still has value because of his football savvy and durability. He reminds me a lot of LaDainian Tomlinson, circa 2010. The future Hall of Famer was 31 when he signed a two-year contract with the Jets, and he was a valuable contributor -- on and off the field -- in 2010, helping the Jets to the AFC Championship Game.

Like Tomlinson, Forte is a high-character individual, and he'd fit nicely into the Jets' locker room. He has two allies in the organization -- college scouting director Rex Hogan, a former Bears scout, and former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Forte is a pro's pro.

There are a lot of moving parts with regard to the Jets' backfield. They'd like to re-sign Powell and Chris Ivory, but I have a hard time seeing both guys back in green. I don't think Forte would be a good replacement for Ivory as the featured back, but he'd be a good add as a combination back.

Powell and Ivory combined for 16 third-down catches last season. Does anybody think Forte couldn't triple that production? Didn't think so.

Ultimately, it'll come down to role and, of course, price. I don't think he's an A list free agent for the Jets, but he's a backburner option.