According to Matt Forte, the Jets view him as “an every- down back.” Now all he needs is a quarterback to hand him the football.
The Jets and free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick remain engaged in a stalemate over money, but Forte hopes Fitzpatrick eventually will find his way back to Florham Park.
“Based off last year’s production and the way Brandon [Marshall] has talked about the chemistry that he’s built with Ryan,” Forte said on a conference call Monday morning. “So I would expect and hope it would be him.”
The 30-year-old former Bear admitted he feels some apprehension about the Jets’ unsettled quarterback situation. And for good reason.
It’s unclear how long the staredown between Fitzpatrick and the Jets will last. They reportedly offered him a deal similar to the one new Eagles backup quarterback Chase Daniel received: $21 million over three years, with $12 million fully guaranteed. That offer is well below the contracts given to starters Sam Bradford (two years, $36 million) and Brock Osweiler (four years, $72 million). And that’s the point.
The Jets have made it clear that Fitzpatrick will start if he returns, but there are limits to how much they will pay to get him back. With no other suitors offering more money than the Jets, a source said, general manager Mike Maccagnan has a good deal of leverage.
Fitzpatrick is a sub.-500 quarterback in his 11-year career, but he’s had the most success when paired with Chan Gailey, his former Bills head coach turned Jets offensive coordinator. Last season, Fitzpatrick threw a team-record 31 touchdown passes, with Marshall and Eric Decker his main targets.
Forte hopes to have the same production with Fitzpatrick. He also hopes his presence will be even more of an incentive for Fitzpatrick to re-sign.
“The team right now, with the defense that we have and how they ran the ball last year, I felt like with me signing and everybody else being in place, it would be really enticing for him to come back as well and continue to build on what he built last year,” Forte said.
He said it was “a hard pill to swallow” when he realized that the Bears, for whom he had played his entire eight-year career, no longer wanted him. But now he believes he’s found “the perfect fit” in New Jersey.
“I envisioned myself in this offense, with this team,” said Forte, who signed a three-year, $12-million deal that includes $8 million guaranteed. “And having a great defense, and running the ball and being able to throw the ball to the big receivers outside, I felt like it would be a good fit for me.”
Notes & quotes: According to sources, former Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon visited the Jets on Monday, tight end Kellen Davis signed a one-year, $965,000 deal and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins signed his tender ($1.671 million).