He has been conspicuous by his absence since the beginning of Bears practices under the new coaching staff of John Fox but Martellus Bennett arrived at Halas Hall on Monday to take his team physical prior to Tuesday’s opening of the final, three-day and mandatory team minicamp.
The veteran tight end, signed to a four-year deal in 2013 but wanting a new one after a 90-catch season, has foregone a $100,000 workout bonus by staying away from the team facility and programs.
The Bears are off from Thursday through the July 29 start of training camp, and Bennett’s intentions will only be apparent when he finally does begin practice under his new coaching staff.
For their part, the Bears during Bennett’s absence were going about looking at upgrades on the depth chart, and possibly a replacement for Bennett this year or next.
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After signing veterans Bear Pascoe, a spot starter for the New York Giants before spending last season with the Atlanta Falcons, and re-signing Zach Miller and Dante Rosario, the Bears were among nearly among a dozen teams putting in waiver claims on tight end Tim Wright after he was released by the New England Patriots last week. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were awarded Wright.
Notably, the Patriots found no takers for even a modest trade for Wright, a smallish tight end (220 pounds) who caught 26 passes last year after 54 receptions for the Buccaneers in 2013.
The Bears were rumored to be open to trading Bennett, whose career-best 90 catches last season earned him his first Pro Bowl appearance. But as with Wright, for whatever reasons, teams were not stepping up with offers for players at a position with varying levels of importance in different offensive schemes.