Chicago Bears Rumors: Martellus Bennett Released for Alshon Jeffery, Zach Miller Contracts? Matt Forte Return Option?

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Feb 05, 2016 10:29 AM EST
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Martellus Bennett
Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett runs for yards during a 2015 game."

The Chicago Bears have a lot of roster moves to look at in the offseason as a number of their long-time playmakers face doubt about their futures. While Jay Cutler is secured as the starting quarterback, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett might not be around to join him. While much of the focus has been on Jeffery and his expiring contract, what do things look like for Bennett in 2016?

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the chance Bennett is back for another year with the Bears is slim. The tight end did not have a good season in 2015 before landing on injured reserve with a rib issue. He publically complained about his role with the team and made it clear he was not happy with the franchise. Now Bennett will be a $6.3 million cap hit in 2016 while releasing him could save the Bears $5.2 million which could be used towards contracts for Jeffery or Forte.

The issue is getting rid of Bennett leaves a hole at the tight end position. Zach Miller is on an expiring contract and Biggs reports he is demanding $5 million a season in a new contract. The Bears do not intend on paying that which means Miller will test the market as a 31-year-old with inconsistent stats. Miller told the media that he would like to return to Chicago, but the only way the Bears make that happen is if he lowers his price tag. Miller's return could dictate what happens with Bennett this offseason.

The Bears cannot afford to overlook the tight end position. Bennett holds value in the league and the team could get a trade for the veteran. Miller's price tag is simply too high to give in to, but the options on the open market are slim and the Bears might not have many other options if they wait around.

The first thing the team plans on doing is determining the future of Jeffery who wants a top-dollar deal. According to the Chicago Sun-Times the receiver will demand a contract similar to what Julio Jones and Dez Bryant earned, but the Bears will not give it to him. Jeffery made it clear that he does not want to be hit with the franchise tag, but he might not have another choice if the two sides cannot agree to a number. Jeffery is simply too valuable to the Bears for them to let him walk away in free agency.

Forte is an interesting piece for the Bears. The running back told the Chicago Sun-Times that he could very well be back with Chicago. Much of that will be determined by his contract demands. Forte's numbers are good, but his age is not and in a market when the running back position is under-valued, he will not get the money he wants. The Bears could try and come to him with a creative deal that will not hit the salary cap too hard, but give the team back their franchise running back.

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