Last season, Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett did very little to ingratiate himself to the new front office and coaching staff.
Due to his desire for a new contract, Bennett sat out voluntary off-season activities. He was then asked to be the focal point of the passing attack following injuries to Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery. Bennett responded with 439 receiving yards, 8.3 yards per catch and 3 TDs, which were by far his lowest totals of the past four seasons. He then sat out the Packers contest in Week 12 and refused to watch it on TV before blowing up in practice the following week. By Week 14, he was at home for good after being place on IR with a "rib injury."
Remember, Bennett is the one who slammed Kyle Fuller to the turf after an innocuous snap in training camp just a few months after the Bears spent a first-round pick on him. It was the third fight Bennett initiated with teammates that off-season, all of which I saw with my own eyes. Having covered him for four years, it's crystal clear to me that Bennett's selfishness is off the charts.
When asked about Bennett today at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, neither head coach John Fox nor GM Ryan Pace had much to say.
"Martellus is under contract, and right now a lot of our priority and emphasis is first of all being here at the combine for our first look, and particularly for our coaches at the college draft class, which is imperative for any organization," Fox said. "And then free agency. We're two weeks out from that and those decisions. The guys that are under contract, any decisions made on them moving forward will be very fluid. But the reality is that's on the back burner and we'll get more into that when it's appropriate."
Pace was also non-committal when asked about Bennett's future.
"He’s under contract, so right now our focus is on guys who are out of contract," Pace said. "You can categorize them in two different areas and he’s in the other area right now."
At no point did either of the team's biggest decision-makers say they wanted Bennett back or are looking forward to him coming back or what he'd bring to the team if he returns. In essence, all they said was "he's under contract." That is by no means a vote of confidence, which tells me they are going to actively try to trade him before the start of the season, or else cut him. He's a headache in the same way Brandon Marshall was a headache, and we all know how Marshall's career ended in Chicago.
In that same press conference, Pace couldn't say enough good things about Zach Miller, who replaced Bennett in the starting lineup.
"We like Zach," said Pace. "He’s a guy we’d want back and we’re negotiating with him. What happens at this stage in the game is you understand the reality that a lot of times, these guys have to hit the open market to set their value. I understand that’s the case with a lot of these positions. That’s the necessary place that we’re in right now."
Miller has gone on record as to his desire for a contract in the range of $5 million, which is a lot for a backup. Although if the Bears trade or waive Bennett, they'd save more than $5 million, which they could then give to Miller, who last year had the same amount of receiving yards as Bennett (439) on 19 fewer receptions.