Bill Belichick will likely need to plug that hole at some point, but Matt Forte isn’t going to be the guy to do it.
A Rotoworld.com article by Evan Silva predicted that Forte will end up landing with New England in exchange for second- and sixth-round picks. It’s gotten people talking — some wishing and others expressing skepticism.
It’s that latter group that has its head on straight, because not only is it unlikely that such a deal gets done, but swinging a trade for the Chicago running back would be shocking, costly and downright unnecessary.
If Silva’s prediction proved Nostradamus-esque and the Patriots surrendered a second- and sixth-round pick for the 26-year-old, two-time 1,000-yard rusher, it would do little to hamper the Patriots on draft day. First of all, the sixth-round pick would have to be a future pick, as the team doesn’t have a sixth-rounder in this year’s draft — the Pats have two firsts, two seconds, a third and a fourth.
However, acquiring Forte would require a significant financial investment, as the running back’s contract demands are essentially the sole reason for his speculated departure from Chicago. The Patriots have plenty of cap room, but they would be wise to conserve that money, either to improve in areas of greater need or to lock up one of their young players to a long-term deal.
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are both slated to become free agents following the 2013 season, and another season like 2011 will put both tight ends in line for quite the pay day, especially Gronkowski, who will in all-certainty become the highest paid tight end in NFL history.
With those two contracts looming after next season, why would New England overexert itself when there’s a trio of more-than-capable backs — Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead — waiting in the wings. The Patriots obviously have a pass-first offense, and Forte is an excellent receiving back, but Vereen could fill that void in 2012, while Ridley receives a bulk of the carries.
The Patriots spent second- and third-round picks on Vereen and Ridley, respectively, so going out of their way to acquire Forte would be some sort of admission of wrong-doing on their part, which is surely unnecessary given how raw those two talents still are after just one season in the league.
Sure, Forte would be another weapon for Tom Brady‘s arsenal because — as noted — he is such a talented receiver out of the backfield. But the Patriots would be compromising another dimension of their offense — short-yardage and goal-line efficiency — if they replaced a reliable north-south runner like Green-Ellis with a flashier back in the mold of Forte.
Because New England is such a pass-heavy offense, Green-Ellis’ ability to hold onto the football, push the pile and keep defenses honest around the goal-line was a tremendous asset. If Belichick is going to bring in another running back, he should look to replicate the style and production that Green-Ellis provided, as it best complements New England’s aerial assault.
So yes, Forte-to-New England is good for talk radio, Twitter conversations and drunken arguments out on your back deck. But when it comes to closing the four-minute gap that separated the Patriots from another Super Bowl ring, it’s a move that shouldn’t even be considered.
Photo via Facebook/Matt Forte