Bears

Bears trade Martellus Bennett to resolve another 'fit' problem

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Bears trade Martellus Bennett to resolve another 'fit' problem

When it was agreed early last season by both sides that defensive end Jared Allen was not working out in the Bears’ new 3-4 defensive scheme, the Bears worked with his agent to find an agreeable alternative, which turned out to be a trade to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round draft choice.

Last offseason the Bears were content to grant Brandon Marshall his ticket to New York and its NFL media opportunities, dealing the wide receiver and a seventh-round pick to the New York Jets for a fifth-round selection.

Now the Bears have granted another starter an exit visa, dealing unhappy 2014 Pro Bowl tight end Martellus Bennett along with a sixth-round pick (No. 204) to the New England Patriots in return for a fourth-round selection (No. 127) in the 2016 NFL Draft. The sixth-rounder is the one the Bears received from the Patriots in return for linebacker Jon Bostic last season.

“We will continue to pursue all avenues to make our team better as we prepare for the 2016 season,” General manager Ryan Pace said. “In a perfect world a trade is a win-win for both sides and we believe there is upside to all parties involved in this deal. We were able to acquire a higher pick to help us continue to build our team. We wish Martellus nothing but the best as he continues his career in New England.”

The trade nets the Bears a pick in the same round where they have selected players such as Alex Brown, Ka’Deem Carey, Jeremy Langford, Henry Melton, Kyle Orton and Nathan Vasher over the past 15 years. 

It also gives the Bears something for a player that Pace had given permission to seek a trade, a step that typically signals to the league that the player will be released if no deal is forthcoming. It also follows the Bears reaching an agreement with Zach Miller on a two-year deal that potentially addresses some of the pass-catching firepower at the position.

The problem is that Bennett, when motivated, was one of the better all-around tight ends in the NFL, with enough size and speed to be a three-down tight end and not merely restricted to situational use.

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Bennett, who caught 65 passes in 2013 and 90 in 2014 before missing four games and finishing with 53 last season, has had his scrapes during his Bears tenure. He was suspended for a week and fined in 2014 after throwing rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller to the ground using Fuller’s facemask during a fight in practice. He stayed away for the entire offseason program last year in an effort to get a contract renegotiation following his 90-catch 2014 despite having two years remaining on the four-year deal, $20 million deal he reached with the Bears in 2013.

Bennett, due to make $5.185 million in 2016, including a $100,000 workout bonus, was unhappy with the tilt of the offense in the red zone toward Miller as 2015 played out and became a distraction in practice prior to the Thanksgiving game against the Green Bay Packers. He was placed on the inactive list for that game, surprising for a player who hadn’t missed a game in more than three seasons and who was back on the field the following game against the San Francisco 49ers.

A rib injury landed Bennett on injured reserve for the final three games, the first time in his eight-year career that he’d missed more than two games in an entire season.

Despite the glitches, Bennett finished tied for ninth among tight ends with his 53 catches in 2015.

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

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USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.