The New York Jets kicked off free agency by acquiring free agent running back Matt Forte, looking to bring versatility and an improved rushing attack to the city that never sleeps in 2016.
The Jets were able to sign free agent running back Matt Forte after the Chicago Bears opted not to re-sign him, instead favoring running backs Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey for the upcoming season. This was a huge signing for the Jets who recently lost Chris Ivory in free agency, as he signed a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last year, the Jets primarily used Ivory and Bilal Powell, also having Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy on the roster. In his first two seasons with the Jets, Ivory ran for 833 yards and 821 yards. In 2015, he ran for 1,070 yards on 247 attempts (4.3 yards per carry) and added 217 yards on 30 receptions. The season looked very promising after not playing in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ivory ran for 166 yards and a touchdown and 146 yards and a touchdown in Week 4 and 5, respectively.
Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) warms up before the Chicago Bears game against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Despite these two big weeks Ivory being a 1,000-yard rusher in 2015, he was wildly inconsistent. Ivory seemed to constantly be plagued by groin, hamstring or quadriceps injuries throughout the season. Come free agency, the Jets were smart in not paying his asking price, rather looking to free agency for an answer. Enter Forte.
While Forte is an aging back at 30-years old, he has proven year in and year out throughout the course of his eight year career to be one of the best, most consistent running backs in the NFL. Consistency is key, and also something the Jets have lacked at the running back position. Another plus: Forte has proven to be durable, only missing four games in the last four seasons; eight games in his whole career.
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Over his career, Forte has racked up 12,718 total yards on 2,522 touches and has added 64 touchdowns.
If not for an MCL sprain in 2015, he would have likely had his sixth season with 1,000 rushing yards in eight years.
With Forte, you can also count on at least 1,300 all-purpose yards (his lowest season also being 2015 where he had 1,287, missing three games).
During a conference call with reporters this past Friday, Jets’ general manager Mike Maccagnan had the following to say in regards to Forte, courtesy from the Media Relations Department of the Jets:
"“When we looked at the free agency market and we knew Forte was out there, we liked him quite a bit. We knew he is a little bit older than some of the other backs, but he’s still a very good back. We felt the chance to get a player of Forte’s quality at the price range we got him for would help us.”"
And help New York, he will. With the weapons this Jets’ offense already has in place and what he brings out of the backfield, Forte has a great chance to be a stud in the big apple.
No, he is not Ivory. He will not primarily be a first or second down guy that bludgeons defenses up the gut. Forte brings versatility to the Jets’ backfield. He is an every down back if needed, running the ball effectively and being one of the more prolific pass-catching running backs in football. He is also a very good pass blocker.
Is there anything Forte cannot do for New York? Expect him to not only bring the Jets rushing attack to an exciting new level but their passing attack as well this upcoming season.