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Schefter: Patriots were incredibly close to signing Jets RB Matt Forte this offseason

The Patriots will get a look at what they missed on during free agency.

New England Patriots fans were clamoring for the team to sign RB Matt Forte once he left the Bears. Forte might have been 30 years old, but his talent was undeniable. Forte had surpassed 1,200 yards from scrimmage in every season of his 8-year career, matching the likes of Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson and Browns RB Jim Brown.

Well, Patriots fans almost got their wish until the Jets made a last second phone call, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“On the first day of free agency in 2016, Forte flew into New Jersey to meet with the Jets, who made the decision to sign him,” Schefter reports. “There were some concerns about the condition of his knee during the physical, however, and the Jets did not rush to get the paperwork done, league sources told ESPN.

“The delay made Forte antsy, and that evening, the 30-year-old running back headed to the airport to board a flight and sign with the Patriots, sources said.

“As soon as the Jets heard Forte was New England-bound, their behavior changed, sources said. Any concerns about the knee were overlooked, and the three-year, $12 million contract was written up and signed.”

Forte has 911 yards from scrimmage over 10 games and is on pace for a 9th straight 1,200 yard season, which would tie for the 5th longest streak in NFL history.

The Patriots have been fine without Forte as RB LeGarrette Blount has 802 rushing yards on the year, ahead of Forte’s 732 rushing yards. Forte’s receiving ability would have offered the Patriots a more well-rounded player, but Blount is far more cost effective.

Still, Forte is still producing at a high level just days away from his 31st birthday.

This reminds me of how the Patriots missed out on then-34-year-old WR Steve Smith in 2014. Smith was planning on flying to the Patriots after a visit to the Ravens, but a storm delayed his flight and Smith decided to stay in Baltimore. Smith is now 37 years old and he’s averaged 72.6 receiving yards per game with the Ravens, the 15th highest mark over the past three seasons.

Hopefully the Patriots can make Forte regret signing with the Jets on Sunday- and Smith regret signing with the Ravens in week 14.