Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte may seem like an intriguing option, but the Houston Texans should stay away.
The Houston Texans need some help at running back after a season that saw them struggle to find a consistent rusher. With Arian Foster‘s future with the team up in the air, it’s possible they will be looking to find a running back in the NFL Draft, or through free agency. The Chicago Bears’ Matt Forte should be a free agent this offseason, but Houston should turn its attentions elsewhere.
The Texans were able to make the playoffs in 2015 despite their struggles at quarterback, so it would be easy to get into a win-now mindset if they can find a successful quarterback. That often leads to teams spending heavily on free agents that they believe can be immediately effective rather than investing long-term in developmental players. Matt Forte still has the skills to be a heavy contributor on offense, but he’s not a long-term option.
At age 30, Forte is certainly in the second half of his career, and he’s lost a lot of tread from his tires. He’s averaged 315 touches a year through his eight-year career, as he’s been the focal point of the Chicago offense at many times. He struggled with injuries in 2015, failing to reach 900 rushing yards for the first time in his career, and he will likely only continue to lose production as he ages.
The Texans are a young team, for the most part, with a bright future ahead of them. They are at a point right now where they are right on the edge of competing, and need only a few key pieces (most importantly a quarterback) to be successful. Their running game was productive on the backs of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, and Jonathan Grimes, but a more dominant every-down type of back would be huge for their offense.
Houston’s best option will be scouring the draft to find their running back of the future, rather than trying to plug in Matt Forte, knowing they will likely have to replace him in a few year anyway. This is a Texans roster that can be a good team for many years to come, and finding a young quarterback-running back combo this offseason may just put them over the hump into the conversation of true contenders.
Ezekiel Elliot, Derrick Henry, Devontae Booker, and Paul Perkins are all possibilities at the top of the 2016 NFL Draft, and I hope Houston pursues one of these players. If they decide they desperately want a veteran free-agent, then Lamar Miller, Chris Ivory, and Doug Martin could be possibilities as well. Matt Forte may seem like an intriguing or cheap option, but he can’t be Houston’s long-term answer, so they should stay away.