While some wonder if the Seahawks could be a fit for veteran running back Matt Forte, salary cap considerations and other options available to Seattle might point against it being a real possibility.
A week ago, it was DeMarco Murray being rumored as a possible fit for the Seahawks should be become available (which he hasn’t yet).
Friday, it’s Matt Forte, who actually is now available after being told by the Bears he will not be re-signed, leading to the inevitable conjecture about whether the Seahawks might be interested.
Forte, who turned 30 in December, made $7.05 million last season rushing for 898 yards on 218 carries and also catching 44 passes for 389 yards.
Among those who thinks the Seahawks could be a fit for Forte is Conor Orr of NFL.com, who wrote: “Before he was the consummate dual-threat back, Forte was a bruiser. At 6-foot-2, he had the ability to pound gaps better than most running backs in his prime. He has evolved plenty since then, but with the recent departure of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks could be interested in a smart and complementary running back to fit their system. Fred Jackson led all Seattle running backs with 32 receptions a year ago.”
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Among those who thinks Seattle wouldn’t likely be a fit for Forte is ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia, who wrote: “Considering the Seahawks’ cap situation and free-agency needs, I don’t think they’re going to spend the money on running back. The plan to replace the retiring Marshawn Lynch seems to be to go with Thomas Rawls and a couple cheaper options. I’m assuming Forte is still going to be looked at as a starter by someone.”
I’d probably side with Kapadia in thinking that the Seahawks may not be interested in paying anything substantial for a veteran running back given their cap situation and other pressing issues.
The Seahawks still have $5 million in dead money on the books for Lynch for 2016. They also have a cheap alternative now in Rawls (who is due to make $530,000 in 2016) and a likely relatively cheap complement to Rawls in Christine Michael, a restricted free agent who the team has said it wants back (the low tender for an RFA is projected in the $1.6 million range for 2016 — the exact numbers will be set in a few weeks).
Seattle did sign a veteran running back on the cheap last year in Jackson, who made $900,000. Jackson was signed the week before the season opener to fill a specific role after Robert Turbin was injured and the decision was made to trade Michael — that of a third-down running back. Forte could indeed fill a similar role while still able to add more as an early-down runner. But he would also likely command a lot more than Jackson got, and may also want to still be a starter.
And while Seattle did save $6.5 million against the cap with the retirement of Lynch, the Seahawks are still not exactly flush with cash (roughly $18 million according to OvertheCap.com) and with lots of other holes to fill.
And while big names may be enticing to fans, it’s worth considering if the Seahawks may be more than comfortable going with the players they are likely to have (Rawls, Michael) and supplementing that with cheap backups after seeing the success each of those two had last season. Rawls finished with 830 yards and a 5.6 per-carry average while Michael had 192 yards and a 4.9 per-carry average after returning to the Seahawks and ten had 70 yards on 21 carries in the playoff win over the Vikings.
If Forte still wants and can command anything close to a starter’s salary, signs would seem to point to him landing somewhere other than Seattle.