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No New News on Status of Bears’ TE Martellus Bennett

Courtesy of USA Today Images

Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett sat out of the team’s voluntary workouts last month, thanks to a contract dispute that has left him currently without the new deal he desires. That holdout prompted ESPN’s Adam Schefter to report that the Bears had been “entertaining trade offers” for Bennett, adding that Bennett “wants a new contract in Chicago or anywhere.”

Bears head coach John Fox denied that he was shopping the tight end, saying at the end of the team’s last voluntary minicamp that he expected Bennett to be on the roster once the NFL draft concluded. He’s been true to his word—the draft ended just over a week ago and Bennett has not been traded. But that doesn’t mean the new contract he’s been angling for is about to be given him, either.

Now that Phase II of the Bears’ offseason program is beginning, there has been no movement from either camp to get that new deal done. Fox said on Sunday, via ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson, that nothing has changed between the Bears and Bennett. Fox said, “As I mentioned before, the answer is not going to change much—it is voluntary. I prefer guys be here, but if they’re not, they’re not.”

Bennett, entering his eighth season in the NFL, had the best season of his career in 2014, catching 90 passes on 128 targets for 916 yards and six touchdowns, earning him a Pro Bowl berth. In two years with the Bears, he has 155 receptions for 1,675 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is set to make over $6 million in salary and bonuses in 2015 and 2016.

That’s not a cheap price for the position, with only 10 tight ends slated to earn more in 2015. And the Bears aren’t thin at the position either, with Zach Miller, Dante Rosario and Bear Pascoe joining Bennett on the depth chart. So either Bennett will choose to continue to work out away from his team until practices become mandatory and decide whether being fined is worth continuing his holdout or he will just have to wait until he gets closer to his contract expiring to get the deal he wants.

Bennett is being more than fairly compensated over the next two years and can only make his situation better by showing up, participating in practice and proving that he can consistently perform as he did last season.

Photo: USA Today Sports