The Chicago Bears are getting a jump start on offseason moves. The team made it clear to Matt Forte he would not be returning while trimming the roster before free agency and the NFL Draft. Now one of the biggest futures being put into question is that of Martellus Bennett who could be hinting that he is the next Bears player to be sent packing this offseason.
It is no secret that there is doubt surrounding Bennett. He was vocal about wanting a new contract and then vocal about being unhappy in the offense. He then ended his season early with a rib injury and now he could be out for good. Bennett posted a cryptic photo on Instagram with the caption, "West Coast. Same Dreams. Same Goals. New Beginning." Of course that fueled speculation that Bennett believes he will be departing Chicago this year despite having one more season left on his contract.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears would rather trade Bennett than release him knowing that the tight end market is generally weak in free agency. The Bears could get a nice mid-round pick in return for the veteran as teams like the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos would easily take notice if he is available. That would mean Chicago favors Zach Miller and could re-sign him instead. The only issue is that Miller wants a big deal that he might not deserve.
The Bears certainly have a tough decision to make with Bennett. The tight end has been a reliable target during his tenure with the team. According to Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times, a trade of Bennett is not a foregone conclusion and much of his future will be determined by what kind of trade offers the Bears get for him.
"He can block, he can catch the ball and he's as easy to tackle as a tree trunk. Tell me again what he did that made him fall out of favor with the team? Pouting over a contract? Please," Morrissey wrote. "Zach Miller was very good for the Bears when he got his chance at tight end, but after a career filled with injuries, to expect him to follow up a healthy 2015 with a healthy 2016 is asking a lot."
The first priority for the Bears is Alshon Jeffery. There have not been any reports of contract negotiations taking place with the wide receiver, but ESPN.com reports that he will get the franchise tag if nothing progresses. The Bears have no interest in letting him test the market as a number of teams would come jumping for him.