Chicago Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett celebrates after catching a four-yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
In a free agency period where the Chicago Bears are having to make some tough decisions about which players to keep and which to let go, one player made the decision a bit easier for the team on Tuesday.
According to several reports, led by ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson, wide receiver Earl Bennett declined a pay cut for next season, and will likely be released by the team. In 15 games last season, Bennett had 32 receptions for 243 yards and four touchdowns (a career high), and seemed to really take advantage of Marc Trestman’s new offense as he racked up his highest total number of catches since the 2010 season.
Bennett’s departure from the Windy City isn’t something that the Bears are unprepared for. The team inked receiver Domenik Hixon last week to a 1-year contract, and they also have several other potential contenders for the remaining slots at the position in-house, with Marquess Wilson seemingly leading the way after impressing the team during workouts last season.
If nothing else, Bennett’s exit from the roster, although not yet official, would seem to indicate that the team is still trying to give itself a bit more salary cap flexibility to continue adding pieces on the defensive side of the ball. Bennett joins Michael Bush as a cap casualty for the team, but the moves were made with the knowledge that potential replacements were already in place.
When the Bears signed Hixon, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Bennett, and these reports merely confirm that suspicion.