John Fox expects Martellus Bennett to stay with Bears despite trade rumors

ByJeff Dickerson ESPN logo
Thursday, April 30, 2015

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears head coach John Fox said Thursday he anticipates Pro Bowl tight end Martellus Bennett being on the team's roster at the conclusion of draft weekend.

"Yeah," Fox responded when pressed if Bennett would still be a Bear on Sunday.

League sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter the Bears are open to trading the 28-year old Bennett, who boycotted the opening three weeks of the club's voluntary offseason program due to unhappiness over his current contract.

Bennett does not intend to show up in camp with Chicago, or anywhere else, without a new contact, the sources said.

"I have talked to him," Fox said. "I kind of know where he is. Like I said yesterday, with anybody that is not here, I prefer they are here. But he's part of our football team and we'll leave it at that."

However, Fox hesitated to discuss the team's plan for Bennett long-term.

"That's kind of tough question to answer on anybody," Fox said. "I don't know yet. We are just evaluating practice and this is our first opportunity [to look at players] over this week.

Bennett's deal is scheduled to pay him a $4.9 million base salary and $100,000 workout bonus in 2015. He signed a four-year deal with Chicago on May 13, 2013 worth $20.4 million with $9.215 million in guarantees.

Bennett's average per year salary of his current deal ($5.1 million) places him far down the list among the NFL's highest paid tight ends. Seattle's Jimmy Graham tops the list at $10 million per season, followed by 11 other tight ends averaging a minimum of $6.4 million per year.

Bennett's push for a new contact comes after he led all NFL tight ends in receptions (90) in 2014, while setting career highs in receiving yards (1,038) and touchdowns (six).

The tight end was a late addition to the Pro Bowl roster after New England's Rob Gronkowski pulled out following the Patriots' Super Bowl victory, making Bennett the first Chicago tight end selected to the Pro Bowl since Mike Ditka in 1965.

Since joining the Bears, Bennett has 155 catches for 1,675 yards and 11 touchdowns.

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