The Bears moving Martellus Bennett to injured reserve this week with a rib injury was a step with some obvious potential implications, both short-term and long-term.
The short term takes a hit by removing a vital member of the Bears’ offense, which has played this season almost entirely without the benefit of their No. 1 unit intact.
The long term projects to include a Bennett exit from Chicago, whether by outright release or by trade, although teams rarely offer much for a player expected to be ousted by his team.
The latter also would deprive the Bears of a shot at what Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin termed a potential “Fab Five” in Irvin’s notion of what the Bears could become offensively.
“There is no one more gifted at their positions than Jay Cutler, and also Martellus Bennett,” Irvin told CSNChicago.com during that 2014 training camp. “If they get the cerebral part of the game to go with their physical gifts, there’s no telling...
“I see an incredible opportunity here. In Dallas, we lived with what everybody called ‘The Triplets,’ Troy [Aikman], Emmitt [Smith] and me...But what I saw [in Chicago] was what I called the ‘Fantastic Four’ with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. The question is whether they’re going to become that ‘Fabulous Five,’ a new ‘Fab Five.’
“Martellus is that key.”
Or maybe now, “was.”
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Marshall was excused to the New York Jets last offseason but Irvin was mightily impressed by Kevin White. The Bears, however, don’t have someone in the developmental pipeline behind Bennett.
Bennett's time over the past two years has been bumpy. He was suspended during the 2014 training camp after a fighting incident with then-rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller. Sources said the open-ended suspension was due not to the incident itself, but rather to Bennett’s behavior with team officials. He was basically suspended until he both apologized for the body slam of Fuller and his conduct afterwards.
That situation was forgotten as Bennett played his way into a Pro Bowl with a career year of 90 catches. But then the offseason came with Bennett choosing to stay away from voluntary work with the team even as it was installing a new system under new coaches. Bennett’s unhappiness at not receiving a new contract festered, leading to complaints about his role while Miller earned increasing snaps and targets.