The game of will-the-Redskins-sign-recently-released-player isn’t always worth playing. There are too many players who get released; they can’t and won’t have interest in someone just because: A) they have a big name and B) they are currently free.
But sometimes it makes sense to play the game, such as in the case of Chicago running back Matt Forte. Now, he wasn’t released, but it was announced Friday that the Bears won’t be re-signing him. And, yes, that means the Redskins, of course, could sign him. I don’t know that he will, but I will analyze why it makes sense -- and why it doesn’t.
Why he makes sense: Forte remains a productive player and a good fit for what most offenses want to do, which is, well, move the ball. Forte can run the ball or catch -- it’s why he has gained 8,602 yards rushing and another 4,116 receiving. The Redskins like to run the ball out of their shotgun formation; he’s averaged 4.48 yards per carry out of this look for his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information, with the bulk of his attempts in the past three seasons. Forte is 30, but he’s also known for being a hard worker and staying in excellent shape. Those who watched him play quite a bit do not feel he’s done. Though his age is an issue, the Redskins were absolutely interested in another 30-year-old back last spring -- Pierre Thomas. It was money, not age, that ended their pursuit until December. Forte would give the Redskins a strong veteran option for Matt Jones if they don’t feel Jones can be the No. 1 back (at this point it’s unlikely that Alfred Morris will return). Forte rushed for 898 yards in 13 games last season and averaged 1.90 yards after contact. This offense likely would be one of the best he’s played with -- the Bears have had one season where they have been higher than 14th in points and 21st in total yards since Forte joined them in 2008.
Why he doesn’t: Because he’s on the downside of his career. Running backs do not age well and he has a lot of miles on his legs with 2,035 carries. The Redskins want to find a dynamic running back -- who doesn’t? -- and it’s hard to say Forte would qualify at this stage of his career. One reason the Redskins might not re-sign Thomas or cornerback Will Blackmon is because of their age and the desire to find younger backups. (But Forte would be considered more than just a part-time backup, so this isn’t necessarily the same). Then it comes down to money. Forte will likely have more than a few teams interested in signing him; do you really want to get into any sort of bidding war for an aging back being allowed to walk by the one team that knows him best? If Forte wants $4 million or so? Pass. If he can be had for a deal worth half that? Worth exploring. A team such as New England or Green Bay would make a lot of sense given how they run their offenses and the fact that they are closer to a championship than most teams.