Hoping for new contract from Ravens, Justin Forsett aiming for bigger season this year

Justin Forsett is a pending free agent, but he's hoping to sign a new deal with the Ravens.

Justin Forsett delivered a breakthrough year for the Ravens last season as Ray Rice’s replacement.

Now that his one-year, $730,000 contract has expired, the veteran running back is hoping to negotiate a new deal with the Ravens and surpass his career-high production next season.

"It’s a waiting game right now," Forsett said. "I know both sides have interest. It’s crazy how things can turn out but hopefully, preferably everything can work out.

"I would love to stay here. I want to be here in Baltimore. They gave me my shot, gave me my opportunity. But then again, there’s that business side we have to work out. I’m praying that everything works out.”

Under the NFL collective bargaining agreement, Forsett can't sign a new contract until he officially becomes a free agent March 10.

If they can bring back Forsett, the Ravens are expected to pair him with a young running back. They met with Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, Northern Iowa's David Johnson and Miami's Duke Johnson at the NFL scouting combine. The Ravens also have reserve running backs Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro under contract.

"He doesn’t have the wear and tear, and Justin did a very good job of coming in, competing and then being our bell cow," general manager Ozzie Newsome said last week during a news conference. "We would like to retain Justin, but I’ve learned something since the end of the season about Justin that I didn’t really know. He has mentored some very good, young backs, starting with Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville.

"Having Justin here, and with the opportunity also bringing in hopefully another young running back, to have Justin be around that guy would be an asset also. So, we will work to try to retain Justin.”

Forsett was named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season after rushing for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 197-pound former Cal standout thrived in former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's zone running system, ranking fifth in the NFL in rushing. He led the NFL with a franchise-record 17 runs of 20 yards or more.

“I want to build upon it," said Forsett, who led the NFL with a 5.4 average per carry and also caught 44 passes for 263 yards. "I want to be great. I didn’t come in this league to be a one-year wonder. Every time I got an opportunity I was able to seize it and I want to continue to do that.”

Forsett has met new Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, the former Chicago Bears coach who replaced Kubiak when he was hired as the Denver Broncos head coach. Forsett said they haven't had any in-depth conversations about his role in the offense.

"We still have to sit down and talk a little football," Forsett said. "It’s just meet and greet, say hello. It’s crazy because they had the combine and stuff around here. Nice, good dude. I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about him.”

Forsett said he's staying in shape with regular workouts with a goal of improving upon his production from last season.

"It's going good," he said. "I'm just trying to make sure I don't start back at zero when I really start to train. I'm making sure I'm keeping in shape and eating right and that my body's right when it's time to ramp it up again."

awilson@baltsun.com

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