By Chris Emma–

INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) — In deciding on the Bears’ future at running back, general manager Ryan Pace made it clear Wednesday that the team didn’t enter contract negotiations with Matt Forte.

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The 30-year-old Forte made it official on Feb. 12 that he wouldn’t be returning to the team after eight years in Chicago, and he’ll enter free agency after a productive 2015 season. Pace and the Bears decided it was in their best interest to move forward with younger running backs Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey.

“Really it was just the confidence we have in our younger backs and treating (Forte) with respect,” Pace said.

Pace had promised to Forte that he would be quick in offering a decision on his future, and he was. All indications from Pace suggest that the decision was made along with the progression of Langford and Carey.

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Bears coach John Fox expressed similar sentiments, showing his confidence in the team’s young running backs.

“It was best for him with the timing, and I think it was best for us,” Fox said.

In letting Forte leave, the Bears — who issued a “thank you” statement the same day Forte revealed his time was over in Chicago — handled the process with respect to his tremendous eight-year career in Chicago, on that finished him second behind Walter Payton in many of the franchise’s rushing records.

“These are thorough, thoughtful discussions,” Pace said. “And, honestly, emotional sometimes.”

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Chris Emma covers the Chicago sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.