Ryan Pace: Martellus Bennett ‘under contract’; Bears focus elsewhere

One of the biggest rumors surrounding the Chicago Bears following the 2015 season was whether Martellus Bennett would be back for a fourth season with the team.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace would not offer any insight into what the team intends to do with the veteran tight end.

“I talked to him right at the end of the season,” Pace told the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. “I haven’t talked to him recently. He’s under contract; we’ve got a lot of players that aren’t under contract, so that’s where our focus is right now.”

When pressed by reporters whether Bennett fit into the team’s plans, Pace didn’t budge.

“We recognize that he’s a talented, well-rounded tight end. He’s under contract, so right now our focus is on all these guys that are out of contract.”

Pace might be keeping things coy, or they just might not yet know what they intend to do with Bennett given the fact that backup Zach Miller is set to hit the free agent market next month.

“A lot of times these guys have to hit the open market to set their value,” Pace said, in reference to the team’s plans with Miller. “We like Zach, he’s a guy that we want back and we’re negotiating with him.”

If the Bears were to get rid of Bennett — or even give a hint that they would do so — it would give Miller more leverage in negotiations.

I’ve long maintained that it would be a mistake for the Bears to get rid of Bennett. He’s a bit goofy, sure. But he’s one of the top tight ends in the league, a Pro Bowler, and gives defenses matchup problems.

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