With a new head coach and new general manager at the helm of the Chicago Bears, offseason moves were expected. The team immediately got rid of franchise star Brandon Marshall, but opted to hang on to veterans like Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. While their short-term futures appear set, the jury is still out on Martellus Bennett. Coming off career-high numbers in 2014, the tight end is looking for a new contract and plans to hold out until he gets one.
The Bears kicked off OTAs on Tuesday to begin work on a critical 2015 season in which the franchise is searching for a major bounce back. However, one familiar face was absence. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Bennett was not present at workouts and also skipped voluntary workouts as well as he continues to push for a new contract. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase admitted he has not seen Bennett in "a while" while head coach John Fox was not thrilled by Bennett's absence.
"I prefer guys be here, but if they're not, they're not," Fox said, via the Sun Times.
According to general manager Ryan Pace, Bennett has not requested a trade. Marshall went on WMVP-AM Chicago to say that the tight end is running a risk of getting traded just like he was. Bennett is worth a lot on the open market. Teams in need of another strong passing piece will not hesitate to seek out a deal. The Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers are just a few teams that would love to take on the numbers Bennett put up in 2014.
Forte showed up for OTAs like he originally promised to do which is a positive sign considering he too was facing trade rumors. Entering the final year of his contract, the Bears have made no hints of a new contract coming the running back's way. Forte is going to need a good season in order to convince people to give a running back over 30 a multi-year deal.
One thing is certain, the Bears are very confident they have struck gold with rookie Kevin White. The wide receiver will be the new Marshall as he pairs with Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal. The Chicago Tribune reported White stood out in team practice as Cutler appeared thrilled with his new weapon. While Bennett continues to sit out, players like White will be looked at more and more for playing time.