After months of it being well known that Martellus Bennett's relationship with the Bears had been strained, the team found a trade partner for him in the New England Patriots on Wednesday, per a report from ESPN Insider Adam Schefter.
The Bears shipped out a sixth round pick (204th overall) along with Bennett in exchange for a fourth-round selection (127th overall). The Bears move up 77 spots in the draft and now have five picks before the fifth round. It seemed as if at one point, general manager Ryan Pace might not have been able to get a draft pick in return for Bennett, but after the tight end market dwindled his value went up.
Earlier this month Schefter reported that the Bears and Bennett's agent Kennard McGuire were working out a deal to end this situation.
Bennett not being with the Bears this upcoming season was inevitable. Everyone in Chicago knew that and the average NFL fan should have known that. Regardless, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and his unit move on with recent re-signees Zach Miller (two years, $6 million), Rob Housler and second year players Khari Lee and Gannon Sinclair as the four tight ends currently on the roster.
This is a similar deal that Pace made two months into his first year as an NFL general manager. Last March, he shipped out wide receiver Brandon Marshall and a seventh round pick to New York for a fifth-round selection. The Bears found value for a player they felt didn't fit the team culture. As talented as Bennett was for the Bears and still is, the 29-year-old certainly spoke his mind off the field and on the field didn't always give it his all.
I'm a fan of what Bennett brings to the table, but he wasn't a part of the Bears' future and with Miller penciled as the No. 1, they can go the cheaper route and also add some youth to the position. Housler and Lee should have nice roles in their second seasons in Chicago.
The Bears trim $5.2 million by ridding themselves of Bennett and now have roughly $25 million in cap space available. After trading linebacker Jon Bostic and defensive end Jared Allen last season, the Bears had two extra sixth round picks at their disposal, so Pace once again has worked his magic. The Bostic pick goes back to New England.
Bennett's numbers in the Windy City
In 43 career games with the Bears, he averaged 69 grabs, 704 yards, 4.6 touchdowns per season
Bennett totaled 208 receptions, 2,114 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 49.2 yards per game since joining the Bears in 2013 on a four-year, $20.4 million deal ($5.125 million guaranteed). Entering his ninth season, Bennett should fit right in in New England as a red zone target opposite All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. Both Bennett and Gronkowski are 6'6". I'm sure Tom Brady is pretty excited.
With the Bears, Bennett set a single-season franchise record with 90 receptions in 2014 on the way to his first ever Pro Bowl appearance. Last season, contract demands (skipping voluntary workouts in April) and certain comments wore down the team's trust in him. Also, after he revealed that he didn't watch the Thanksgiving night game against Green Bay on television when he was out with a broken rib seemed very strange.
I wish the Black Unicorn nothing but the best, but this is what makes the most sense for the both sides considering the situation. He wasn't going to get the money he thought he deserved with the Bears that's for sure.
New England certainly knows what he brings to the table considering two years ago he had a six-catch, 95-yard, one touchdown performance in Foxborough. Will he get enough targets with Gronkowski as the featured option? We will find out soon enough.
Thoughts on the Bennett trade?
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