Chicago Bears: Who should stay and who should go

8 of 9

Matt Forte — Running Back

This is the toughest decision by far that the Chicago Bears will need to make.

Since entering the league in 2008, Forte has been an elite running back. He has been a dual threat, killing defenses on the ground as well as catching passes from the backfield.

Forte has been an exemplary Chicago Bear both on and off the field. He is the epitome of what being a Bear entails. He is another in the long list of Chicago Bears legends.

The problem with being a legend is that you have some miles on you. Forte just turned 30, and that is a bad age to be for a running back.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN Nation wrote a piece last year about running backs and production as they reach the age of 30. There seems to be a precipitous drop-off in production. There are players like Maurice Jones-Drew, who was leading the league in rushing one season, then injuries piled up and suddenly he was out of the league at 30.

We are seeing part of that now with Marshawn Lynch, who has helped the Seattle Seahawks go to multiple Super Bowls and win one. He is 29 years old, and this season has been full of injuries for him.

We are seeing it with Adrian Peterson as well. He has not been the same runner he was, even with a season off last year. Some teams have been able to slow him down.

The Chicago Bears may want to be in a position to let Forte go a year or so too soon than too late. They drafted Jeremy Langford in this year’s draft, and he looks like he is ready to take the mantle from Forte.

Of course, with teams looking at the draft for running backs, Forte may not be getting what he will be looking for in free agency. There could be a chance the Bears can have him at a discounted rate, and they can use a running back by committee. That may be a very tempting situation. If they can keep Forte at a reasonable price, and reduce his workload, he may be able to retire a Chicago Bear.

That possibility may be wishful thinking. A contending team may want to take a chance and spend some money on an elite back like Forte. Just imagine him playing behind a line like, say, the Dallas Cowboys. After letting DeMarco Murray go, they have a need at running back.

It will hurt to lose Matt Forte, but if the Chicago Bears can let him walk and use the money saved to shore up other positions of need, they will need to make that unpopular move.

Next: Jay Cutler