INDIANAPOLIS — Matt Forte made it easy on the Jets by announcing his retirement Wednesday afternoon. Forte, 32, was thinking of playing one more season but told Newsday recently he understood it’s difficult for NFL teams to keep 30-something running backs on the roster.
So instead of waiting for that phone call, Forte made one himself, retiring with 9,796 rushing yards and 75 touchdowns, including 54 rushing, in a 10-year career with the Bears and Jets. Forte also had 554 receptions, ninth all-time among running backs, for 4,672 yards.
“For the past 10 years, I’ve been blessed to play professionally, a game that I’ve loved since I was six years old,” Forte said in a statement through his agent. “But after much prayer and reflection, I’ve decided to retire from the NFL. Like so many others before me, this game has enhanced my life in numerous ways. My career in the league has been nothing short of a miracle granted by God and put on display for his glory.”
Forte finished the 2017 season on injured reserve because of knee problems. He thought about coming back in 2018 because he had some goals to achieve, including 10,000 rushing yards. But Forte’s health wouldn’t allow him to continue playing.
“Matt is everything you’re looking for in a running back,” Josh McCown told Newsday. “I had the great privilege of playing with Emmitt Smith and Matt Forte is right up there as far as how he approached playing running back and embraced all aspects of the position. Truly a pros pro and an even better person. Great teammate and leader.”
Forte had career lows in carries (103), rushing yards (381) and rushing touchdowns (2) in 2017. Forte’s best game came Nov. 2 in a 34-21 win over the Bills, in which he ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jets get $3 million in salary-cap space with Forte’s retirement. They were expected to release Forte to go younger at the position, but now they can focus on replacing him in the draft.
Bilal Powell led the Jets in rushing with 772 yards on 178 carries and two touchdowns.
“I’d like to thank the New York Jets organization for the past two years,” Forte said. “My experience as a Jet was truly first- rate.”
Forte is the second player with Jets ties to retire recently. Linebacker David Harris, who played last season for the Patriots, ended an 11-year career last week.
“Matt and David Harris are very similar from a coaching standpoint,” Todd Bowles said. “They’re the guys that you want your guys to be like in the locker room, on and off the field, highly professional, highly motivated, great work ethic, did everything the right way — tough, smart, intelligent.”
Matt Forte finished his career 33rd all-time in rushing yards, and was fifth among active running backs with 9,796 yards before announcing his retirement Wednesday. NFL active rushing leaders:
Rank Player Yards Years
1. Frank Gore 14,026 2005-2017
2. Adrian Peterson 12,276 2007-2017
3. LeSean McCoy 10,092 2009-2017
4. Marshawn Lynch 10,003 2007-2017
5. Matt Forte 9,796 2008-2017