Running back Matt Forte admitted Monday that he was apprehensive about signing with a team whose quarterback is a free agent, but he sounded hopeful that Ryan Fitzpatrick will end up starting for the New York Jets.
"Based off last year's production, and the way Brandon [Marshall] has talked about the chemistry he's built with Ryan, I would expect and hope it would be him, just based off what they had last year," Forte said in a conference call with reporters.
The Jets and Fitzpatrick are locked in a stalemate, far apart on a new contract. The only other quarterbacks the team has under contract are former starter Geno Smith, who had only one relief appearance last season, and the inexperienced Bryce Petty. The Jets visited with free agent Robert Griffin III last Friday and Saturday.
Forte said he chose the Jets because they have a "really good defense and a consistent offense. I know Fitzpatrick will be a big part of that, too."
The former Chicago Bears star, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract, used his first interview as a member of the Jets to do some light recruiting.
"With me signing and everybody else being in place, it would be enticing for [Fitzpatrick] to come back and build off what they built last year," Forte said.
Forte, 30, spent eight seasons with the Bears, amassing more than 12,000 yards from scrimmage. Before free agency, the team announced it had no desire to re-sign him.
Forte said he was "not really blinded" by the Bears' decision, "but [I was] surprised I didn't receive an offer from them. I figured they'd at least offer me something mid to low range in the free-agent market. For them to tell you they don't want you back, it's a hard pill to swallow. That's been your team the whole time. I got drafted there. But you roll with the punches and you move on."
The Jets signed Forte after losing leading rusher Chris Ivory to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They also re-signed complementary back Bilal Powell (three years, $11.3 million) and signed Khiry Robinson (one year, $1.1 million), formerly of the New Orleans Saints.
Forte said he doesn't know the specifics of his role, but he expects it to be substantial.
"They see me as an every-down back," he said. "That's what we talked about."