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Bears free-agency preview: Running backs

Bears free-agency preview: Running backs
Bears running back Matt Forte will be entering the final years of his contract in 2015. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Part of a position-by-position preview of where the Bears stand entering free agency on Tuesday.

RUNNING BACKS

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Signed for 2015: Matt Forte, Ka'Deem Carey, Senorise Perry.

Expiring contract: Montell Owens.
Top-shelf free agents: DeMarco Murray, Justin Forsett, Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller.
Possible bargains: Darren McFadden, Roy Helu, Stevan Ridley, Daniel Thomas.
Position synopsis: The Bears don’t figure to be very active in the running back market, still in solid position with Forte as their top back. Coming off a two-season run in which he compiled 3,779 total yards and 22 touchdowns, Forte is entering the final season of his contract. The running back and his camp will push Pace hard for an early extension. But while Forte has earned the right to make that request through his production, durability and low-maintenance presence, there’s seemingly little for the Bears to gain by investing in a new deal for a soon-to-be 30-year-old back entering his eighth season with 2,260 career touches. Loyalty goes only so far in the NFL. So it’s most likely the Bears will ask Forte to play out his deal, and he’ll need to decide whether a holdout threat is his best leverage to counter.
Worth asking: How will the Bears add to their depth at running back?
It’s certainly not too early to start sizing up potential Forte successors in the backfield. But the most practical option for doing so will likely come in the draft, where a deep running back class should present options. Carey, a fourth-round pick in 2014, had only 36 carries as a rookie, leaving Pace and his staff very little game film to measure his full potential.
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