D'Onta Foreman

How the Chicago Bears signing D’Onta Foreman impacts the running back depth chart

The Chicago Bears’ busy Thursday continued into the evening with the signing of sixth-year running back D’Onta Foreman to a one-year, $3 million deal.

Foreman’s addition comes one day after the Detroit Lions signed David Montgomery, leaving the Bears’ running back depth chart in flux. Chicago did sign former Seattle Seahawks special teams ace and third-down back Travis Homer, but it certainly felt like another move at running back was inevitable.

Enter D’Onta Foreman, who enjoyed a career-year in 2022 when he ran 203 times for 914 yards and five touchdowns (4.5 yards per carry). The big-bodied 6-foot-1, 236-pound running back finally unleashed the skill set that made him a third-round pick of the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL draft.

Talent has never been in dispute with Foreman. Instead, he’s battled injuries throughout his career. He tore his Achilles in 2017 and suffered a torn bicep in 2019. He bounced around the league for a few seasons (Colts, Falcons, and Titans) before enjoying the largest workload of his career over the second half of last season.

D’Onta Foreman had five games with more than 100 rushing yards in 2022, including a 165-yard explosion against the Detroit Lions in Week 15. His end-of-year stats are remarkable, considering he had only 12 TOTAL carries entering Week 7. He ran for 880 yards over the final 11 games.

Foreman, 26, isn’t a long-term answer at running back for the Chicago Bears. At least, I don’t think he is. He turns 27 next month, and it’s highly unlikely Ryan Poles will give a multi-year extension to a player with a long injury history on the wrong side of 28 next year this time. But that doesn’t mean he won’t have a significant impact in 2023.

D’Onta Foreman’s arrival clouds the projections for Khalil Herbert, who was the presumed RB1 following Montgomery’s departure. He probably still is that guy, but the running back split may look very similar to last year, only flipped. Herbert will play two series to Foreman’s one.

That caps Herbert’s ceiling a bit, but it shouldn’t turn out the lights on what should still be a breakout season. In fact, Herbert could be the Chicago Bears’ version of Aaron Jones (the runner), while Foreman is their AJ Dillon. Both Green Bay Packers running backs get touches; the same can be expected in Chicago in 2023.

Travis Homer will return to a more realistic role as the Bears’ No. 3 back with high-end special teams value. He’ll provide some juice and injury insurance when needed.

D’Onta Foreman’s addition is bad news for Trestan Ebner. It’s unlikely the Chicago Bears will carry four running backs on their gameday roster; Ebner will be the odd man out. Foreman’s arrival also likely means the Bears won’t invest a meaningful draft pick on a running back in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Khalil Herbert and Foreman will form a formidable 1-2 punch in 2023. Homer will be a fine RB3. And now the Chicago Bears can move on from running back and focus their attention on the offensive and defensive lines in the second wave of free agency and the 2023 NFL draft.

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