The Chicago Bears are entering a rebuilding season as they usher in a new coaching staff and schemes for 2015. That makes these slew of practices before training camp very crucial as players begin to learn a new playbook while adjusting to new teammates. Jay Cutler has been making been making the most of it with new rookie Kevin White, but the absence of Martellus Bennett is being felt. After failing to acquire Tim Wright, will the Bears chase someone else?
According to ESPN's Field Yates, the Bears made a claim on Tim Wright who was released by the New England Patriots. Wright was immediately viewed as a top player available considering he accounted for six touchdowns last year while being critical in goal-line packages. As Bennett continues to holdout from Bears camp, Wright would have been a huge asset for Cutler to work with. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed Wright leaving the Bears empty handed.
The Bears are not trading Bennett. According to the Chicago Tribune, the team cannot afford to let go of the tight end considering how critical he will be with the new offense. Bennett continues to battle for a new contract from the Bears and is holding out until he gets it. The tight end will begin to be fined for his absence when mandatory mini-camps kick off. The issue for Bennett is that Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte are in the final years of their respective deals and reports say general manager Ryan Pace is making them a priority.
Bennett still has two years remaining on an extension he signed in 2013 that will pay him $4.9 million in 2015 and $5 million in 2016. The tight end is coming off a career-high season which is why he is demanding the pay raise. Until he reports, the Bears could look at other options. Jermaine Gresham is available on the free agent market. Nick Kasa or Chase Coffman could be an option even if they are just camp bodies until now. For now, Zach Miller will be the starter.
The absence of Bennett is allowing the wide receivers to have more targets. Jeffery took time to praise newly drafted White who is expected to take the place of Brandon Marshall. According to Jeffery the young receiver has a lot of upside and will bring a lot to the team in 2015.
"He's a great player," Jeffery said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. "He's an explosive player. We can't wait for the season. What he's going to do on the field is going to be great."