Baltimore Ravens: Matt Forte, Marc Trestman Reunion Unlikely

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
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 /

The Baltimore Ravens could use a player like Matt Forte, but it’s unlikely that they make the move to reunite Forte with former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman.

There was chatter early in the 2015 season that running back Matt Forte could be on the trading block entering the final year of his deal. Now it sounds as though he is going to get to handpick where his career will continue.

The Chicago Bears informed Forte today that he will not be re-signed this offseason, making him available to the rest of the league for the first time in his NFL career. The Bears’ most effective player on offensive for the past decade will walk freely and Chicago will get zero compensation for it.

When the news broke, first instinct was that a likely landing spot could be the Baltimore Ravens as Forte had some of his best years of his career with current offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. When the rumors were floating in September about Forte being available for trade, I wrote how Forte and the Ravens would be a perfect fit and still feel that way today. But as much as many of us would like that to happen, it’s most likely not going to.

I have a theory about running backs that I think makes sense. Running backs are a group that you can never have too much talent at. Injuries happen the most at the position because they handle the ball more than anyone other than the quarterback. Eleven defenders are out to take one ball carrier down, and it leads to injuries. Justin Forsett found that out the hard way this season when he broke his arm on an awkward tackle.

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There were plenty of running backs throughout the league that had their seasons cut short due to injury. Le’Veon Bell, Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles are each rehabbing an injured that ended their season. Running backs get beat up more than most players on the field. It’s as simple as that. Why not collect as many good backs as possible because injuries are almost a guarantee at the position?

There are many reasons why the Ravens will not pursue Forte. The top factor is that Forsett is already on the roster. While Forte certainly has the better resume, they both are backs entering their 30s. That is the dreaded age for running backs in the NFL. Forsett also has a team friendly contract, while Forte is likely looking for one more decent payday before his career is all said and done.

There is also in influx of young talent available to the Ravens. Javorius Allen has drawn many comparisons to Forte for his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Terrance West are both young talents with potential to be starters in the future. Baltimore is more likely to stick with the young guns rather than bring in a veteran. 

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Forte is coming off the worst season of his career, rushing for 898 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games played. He also caught 44 balls for 389 yards and three scores for just 1,287 combined yards and seven touchdowns total on the season. That’s a huge drop off from the 1,933 yards and 12 TDs in 2013 and 1,846 and 10 scores in 2014.

Many feel that the diminished numbers are due to the change in coaching staff, and reuniting Forte and Trestman would be great for all parties. The Ravens totaled 1,390 rushing yards (3.96 yards per carry) and four rushing touchdowns, while adding 126 receptions for 877 yards and six TDs. Forsett and Allen split the majority of the rushing yards, while Allen and Kyle Juszczyk accounted for most of the receiving yards. Some might argue that Forte could have put up these types of numbers alone.

While that is possible, we could also make a case that Forsett could have done the same if he played in all 16 games. Allen still would have been worked in towards the end of the season and Juice was going to get his touches, but Forsett would have still been the lead back. He also would have been the beneficiary of more touches once Flacco went down. The Ravens were forced to use a rookie and second-year back instead of the veteran, and Allen found himself riding the pine because of fumbling woes. Things could have gone differently with a healthy Forsett.

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Forte will likely get a chance to start somewhere (Cleveland or Tennessee) so the Ravens are out if the picture. He has been one of the best in the league, but his playing days are running out. A reunion with Trestman might sound great, but don’t count on it.