Bears RB Matt Forte done in Chicago after 8 seasons

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Matt Forte's days as a Chicago Bear have come to an end.

The two-time Pro Bowl running back announced on Instagram Friday morning that he was informed that the team would not offer him a contract for next season.

"Despite my wishes, my days as a member of the Chicago Bears have sadly come to an end," Forte said. "I will remain forever grateful for my time spent in Chicago and being able to play for an organization with such a rich history."

The Chicago Bears confirmed Forte's departure, calling him one of the "all-time great Bears."

"We recently met with Matt to inform him we will not extend a contract offer for the 2016 season,” Bears General Manager Ryan Pace said. “These decisions are never easy, especially given what Matt has meant to our team and community. We have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Matt is one of the all-time great Bears and did an excellent job for us on and off the field last season. He was a tremendous teammate. We thank him for his professionalism and wish him the very best as he continues his career."

Drafted in the second round by the Bears in 2008, Forte emerged as one of the most successful running backs in franchise history. But he is 30 years old and the team has a long list of needs following a six-win season.

Forte says his only regret is not winning a Super Bowl with Chicago.

"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!"

Forte will be an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team beginning March 9.

Despite the losing record, the Bears believe they took a big step forward in their first season under Pace and coach John Fox. Forte had expressed a desire to re-sign, but the team is moving on without him.

It has already been a rather busy offseason for the Bears, with offensive coordinator Adam Gase taking the Miami head coaching job and Dowell Loggains being promoted from quarterbacks coach to replace him. The club has plenty of work ahead considering about one-third of the roster had expiring contracts, with Forte and No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery topping the list.

Forte ranks second in franchise history to Hall of Famer Walter Payton in yards rushing (8,602), receptions (487), yards from scrimmage (12,718), 100-yard rushing games (24) and games with 150 yards or more from scrimmage (25). His 64 touchdowns (45 rushing, 19 receiving) rank third behind Payton and Neal Anderson.

In 2014, Forte set the NFL's single-season record for receptions by a running back with 102.

Last season, he ran for 898 yards and four touchdowns while catching 44 passes for 389 yards and three more scores while splitting time with Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey. He also missed three games due to a knee injury but has been mostly durable during his career, playing in all 16 games in five seasons.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Pace said. "Matt is one of the all-time great Bears and did an excellent job for us on and off the field last season. He was a tremendous teammate. We thank him for his professionalism and wish him the very best as he continues his career."

 

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