The Bears and Martellus Bennett are expected to be ending their association after the productive tight end successfully agitated for a chance for his agent to explore trades elsewhere.
But in the process, Bennett’s actions may boomerang and cost him both money and opportunity, making it harder for the Bears to trade him and for agent Kennard McGuire to find a taker.
Bennett refused to attend any of the Bears’ voluntary offseason programs last year. People noticed. Without saying so publicly, a handful of teams have removed Bennett from possible roster consideration.
A handful of case studies should have shown Bennett what can result from different actions intended to force a change.
Consider several recent Bears-specific examples:
After the 2005 season, concluding that the Bears were committing to Cedric Benson, running back Thomas Jones demanded a trade. Then-GM Jerry Angelo, with Jones agent Tom Condon facilitating, had one in place, one that would have sent Jones to a team that would be the AFC entry in a Super Bowl very shortly.
But Jones abruptly changed agents and was advised to boycott the Bears’ offseason program. The trade offer, from a prominent AFC team executive, evaporated immediately. Jones was traded to the New York Jets the next year.
As last season opened, for all of the offseason effort put in attempting the transition, it was painfully clear to Jared Allen that he was not getting it done in the Bears’ 3-4 defensive scheme. After the Seattle game, Allen talked to the Bears and was open to agent Ken Harris working something out with a handful of teams acceptable to Allen.
One of those teams was the Carolina Panthers. The Bears received a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft. Allen retired with an NFC Championship ring and trip to a Super Bowl.
Like Allen, Bostic was not working out in the Bears’ 3-4, not stout enough to hold onto one of the inside-linebacker spots and not with pass-rush skills to compete on the outside. Despite back problems that started during the 2014 season and kept Bostic largely out of the 2015 offseason programs, Bostic was a regular around Halas Hall.
Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots traded a sixth-round pick to the Bears in September for Bostic, who didn’t get a ring, was inactive in the postseason, but did cash two playoff-round checks.
One note here: Simply because Bennett was/is under contract shouldn’t be held against him whatsoever. Public outcry is swift with, “But he’s under contract” when a player holds out. But as Brian Urlacher once put in clear, simple terms, nobody seems to mind when teams cut players with time still left on contracts. “Contract” is a very fluid term in the NFL.
But holdouts aren’t always good business.