The surprising production that the Jets got from Matt Forte 11 weeks into the season nearly never happened. And the running back was going to jump ship for the division rival Patriots if he didn’t end up with New York.
The Jets, according to a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN, were forced to scramble in a big way on the first night of free agency, nearly losing Forte to the Patriots.
Essentially, Forte was willing to call the Jets bluff when they became worried about the physical state of his knee after meeting with the running back at the beginning of free agency.
The Jets wanted to sign him, but were hesitating over physical issues. According to Schefter, “the delay made Forte antsy,” so the running back cruised back to the airport and was apparently preparing to hop on a flight bound for the Patriots facility.
That’s when New York got hustling and decided to quit worrying about his knee. The Jets came together with a three-year, $ 12 million deal for the running back and the contract was signed.
This week, Forte told NJ Advanced Media that he did indeed have some interaction with the Pats this offseason.
“My agent told me they called,” Forte said. “I asked if they talked about anything, and he said they just wanted me to come for a visit. I said I’m already here about to sign, so I didn’t feel like that would be right.”
The cynic would probably look at this and say it was clearly a situation where Forte’s agents decided to let the Jets know just how quickly things could go south if the team decided not to look past the injury concerns and go ahead and lock him up.
Perhaps there was even a bluff about what the Patriots were willing to pay, because Forte made it sound like they weren’t throwing out a ton of cash.
“If you’re here, as a man, I was already here about to sign,” Forte said. “It happened that way for a reason. They came in kind of late to the game. They weren’t really offering anything.”
All’s fair in love and war and contract negotiations. Especially when the Pats and Jets, who play for the first time this season on Sunday, are doing battle.