“Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end. I was informed earlier this week from the GM that they will not be attempting to re-sign me in free agency. I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history. My only regret is not being able to win a Lombardi trophy for the best fans in all of sports. I’m excited about the next chapter of my NFL career. But, Chicago will always be home. God Bless and Bear Down!” Matt Forte’s days with the Chicago Bears are apparently over. As an unrestricted free agent there was always the possibility that he wouldn’t be returning to Soldier Field for 2016 but earlier today #22 released the above statement on his Facebook page saying that Chicago’s General Manager Ryan Pace had informed him the Bears will not be offering him a deal for 2016. For many it won’t be a surprise. The Bears are far from being contenders in a competitive NFC North and Forte has hit that dreaded age 30 season when running backs seem to decline, especially ones who have seen as much action as Forte. He has been one of a handful of backs who can play every down and excel at every aspect of the game, which is why he’s so infrequently off the field. Forte has rarely been afforded the praise of an Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy but in his own ways Forte has been just as deadly as those two, and just as important to his team. In his 8 seasons in the NFL, Forte has failed to appear in just 8 regular season games, an astonishing feat for someone who averaged 254 carries and 61 catches per season. The lack of quality around him, particularly on the offensive line, and a reluctance to use him at the goal line have capped Forte’s production over the years but he has been a great servant for the Bears. His ability to carry the ball inside or out, run crisp routes and catch as well as his above average blocking made him a menace for opposing defenses and someone who had to be accounted for at all times. His record (for a back) 102 catches in 2014 speak to his effectiveness in a modern, pass friendly offense and suggest there is still plenty of usefulness left in him. As I said, 30 seems to be something of a glass ceiling for running backs these days. The toll of playing the position just doesn’t lend itself to longevity, but there are many teams out there who could use his talents in 2016 and maximise his production by working him into a stable rather than trying to use him as a feature back. The Patriots spring to mind as a team who love the flexibility of throwing to a running back, the Chargers are another. Whatever offers Forte gets when free agency opens are unlikely to blow him away – teams just aren’t giving out big money to older running backs any more – but he should find a home for 2016 and continue to entertain viewers while frustrating defenders.