Bears

A different slant on Martellus Bennett's holdout with the Bears

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A different slant on Martellus Bennett's holdout with the Bears

The word “contract” usually carries with it the understanding that both sides have agreed to an arrangement. Some of them involve services, some involve goods, some involve money. In the NFL they involve services and money.

But it’s not always that simple.

Martellus Bennett has a contract in force through the 2016 season. He chose to stay away from voluntary minicamps, organized team activities and conditioning programs this offseason, working out on his own but opting to try creating a little pressure toward a contract revision after a 90-reception season.

The simple reaction is that you have a contract, you go to work and honor it. Mmmmm, yes and no...

Brian Urlacher conducted a similar job action several years ago, with time left on his deal. His reasoning was that if the team so chooses, it can put you in position of either accepting a pay cut or a cut, period. When that happens, Urlacher correctly said, no one squawks that the team has a contract and should honor it – so why is the player always the bad guy when he wants a better deal?

[MORE BEARS: Martellus Bennett reports, claims to be 'dark-skinned chameleon' at camp]

Bennett presents a sometimes-cartoonish persona. He is anything but. And he, like Urlacher, believes that most people do not fully understand NFL contracts.

“I think that's where people get into, 'Oh, there’s two years left,'” Bennett said. “But most people don't honor their damn phone contract; they switch from Sprint to T-Mobile, so I mean it's just like being in an apartment and getting out of your lease because you want to find a better apartment or something better.

“It’s all phases of life. If we're trying to do something better, or if you find a better place to live you want to go to that home, you don't want to stay in the same home when you could work to get the new home. It's no different for me than it is for everybody else.”

By now the Black Unicorn was hitting his stride, much to the growing discomfort of Bears staffers wanting the discourse over. Bennett then made a pitch to your boss on your behalf:

“I think every American, every person in the whole world should be trying to get a new contract, and if they're not, it's silly.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Bennett’s best tack at this point is probably to put up another 90-catch season and then let agent Kennard McGuire go to work, because the Bears will be calling. If he does, he’ll be following an intriguing negotiation strategy that has been proven elsewhere.

While many workers use strikes as their only recourse to underscore contract demands, Japanese workers some years back had a different approach. When contract talks reached an impasse, it was not uncommon for workers to work even harder at their jobs, above sustainable levels, with the result being that employers were shamed into respecting the requests of such productive workers.

Not an entirely applicable template, but in fact the best way to reinforce contract demands is to outperform the deal. Bennett already has done it for one year; if he does it again, the Bears will become the heavies, “contract” or no contract.

Bennett’s teammates get it:

"I think he wanted to be here,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “All of us reached out to him at certain points throughout the offseason. He wanted to be here. There is a business side to this and he feels passionate about his position. So it is what it is." 

ICYMI: The Bears lose in OT, the Bulls season nears, the Blackhawks make history

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: The Bears lose in OT, the Bulls season nears, the Blackhawks make history

The Bears suffered a heartbreaking defeat (that makes two of those), but the Bulls are days away from the start of a new season and the Blackhawks did something that has never happened before in sports history.

Bears

The Bears had a slow first half, failing to score against the shorthanded Dolphins, but picked things up in the third quarter. It all fell apart late in the fourth quarter and then again in overtime in a 31-28 defeat. Miami went up against the Bears without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Brock Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns. What does that say about the Bears' defense?

Matt Nagy was a bit chippy with the media after the game, but there were still positive signs from the offense.

Plus, Dwyane Wade was there and repped the Bears on the road.

Bulls

The Bulls wrapped up the preseason Friday with a 98-93 loss to the Nuggets. Wendell Carter Jr. and Bobby Portis both showed well in the preseason finale and Jabari Parker flashed his potential as well.

With the preseason complete, Mark Strotman graded each player on the Bulls roster. You may not want to calculate the team GPA.

The roster is being finalized as well, with Ryan Arcidiacono making the team and local product Tyler Ulis getting picked up off waivers.

Blackhawks

Saturday was an eventful day for the Blackhawks. First, it marked the 1,000th career game for Duncan Keith. Keith talked about the emotional night after the game.

As for the game itself, the Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-3 in overtime. That was the second time the Hawks beat the Blues in OT this season, adding to a 5-4 OT win in St. Louis on Oct. 6.

Unbelievably, that was the fifth straight OT game for the Blackhawks. Every game has gone to overtime this season, and not one of those has even gone to a shootout. No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Overtimes are more rare in other sports, but that also holds true for the NBA, NFL and MLB.

The Hawks don't play against until Thursday, when the host Arizona.

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — In a game full of pivotal moments, one seemed to irk the Bears in particular following Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

Driving on the Dolphins three-yard line, the Bears lined up in a T formation with Jordan Howard, Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen lined up left to right in the backfield behind Mitch Trubisky, who was under center. Burton motioned out of the backfield and to the right, and ran his route into linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Trubisky threw a short pass to a wide open Cohen for a touchdown, with Alonso late getting to the running back after being hit by Burton. But that score was taken off the board for offensive pass interference, with officials ruling what Burton did amounted to an illegal pick play.

“Trey did everything I asked him to do,” Matt Nagy said, sharply.

On the next play, Trubisky forced a pass into double coverage in the end zone, which was easily picked off by Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald. Miami turned that interception into eight points on Albert Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown and an ensuing two-point conversion.

The way Burton understood the rule was that offensive pass interference was only assessed on a pick play if he intentionally ran into a defender without running a true route. That’s what Burton felt he did; the officiating crew disagreed.

“I thought I ran a route and the guy ran into me,” Burton said. “I thought they changed the rule this year or last year — if you run the route, it doesn’t matter if you pick the guy or not, you’re good. Obviously they called it.”

A Rough Return

The conversations surrounding the Bears Sunday into Monday would be awfully different had a number of things happened — Trubisky doesn’t throw that interception, the Bears’ defense gets a stop, Tarik Cohen doesn’t fumble near midfield, etc. In that same group: If Cody Parkey hits what would’ve been a game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime.

Parkey, instead, missed that kick wide right. His career long is 54 yards, which he hit last year while with the Miami Dolphins (and that was a game-winner with about a minute left against the Los Angeles Chargers).

“I had the distance, I just didn’t kick it straight enough, bottom line,” Parkey said. “But you’ve got to move on. I’ve made game winners, I’ve missed game winners. As long as I keep playing, I’m just going to keep trying to kick my best.

“… I control what I can control, and unfortunately I missed a field goal. I’d like to have that one back, but it is what it is and I’m just going to focus on the next game. That’s all I can do.”