Martellus Bennett is finished in Chicago. The Bears have traded the veteran tight end to the New England Patriots. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter on Wednesday and on Thursday was made official. In return, the Bears will receive the Patriots' fourth-round pick while they send over their sixth-round selection.
Bennett spent the last three seasons in Chicago, after signing a four-year, $20 million dollar contract with the Bears in 2013, and he was very productive in his first two seasons there. In 2013, Bennett finished the season behind only Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery with 759 receiving yards and five touchdowns. His 2014 campaign was even stronger, with 916 yards and seven touchdowns. Bennett was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2014 season, and subsequently sat out of voluntary offseason workouts to encourage the Bears to give him more money.
The 2015 season was a very different story. Bennett missed five games with a rib injury and was placed on season-ending injured reserve in December. His performance on the field reflected the missed time, and he finished with 53 catches for 439 yards and three touchdowns.
Bennett was reportedly also disgruntled with the Bears because of his contract and a dissatisfaction with the way he was being used in the offense. In the past, Bennett's conditioning habits and work ethic have been questioned. During a one-year stint with the New York Giants in 2012, Bennett's weight ballooned to 291 pounds and his position coach said he was "too big for his legs to carry." Bennett claimed he had just worked hard in the weight room and added muscle.
Considering Bennett's dissatisfaction with his situation in Chicago, a change of scenery may be the best thing for him.
The Patriots, meanwhile, have been looking for a reliable tight end to complement Rob Gronkowski for the last couple of seasons, trading offensive guard Logan Mankins to the Buccaneers for Tim Wright two years ago and signing Scott Chandler last year. Chandler was cut alongside wide receiver Brandon LaFell on March 2 after a disappointing campaign in Foxborough.
In addition to Bennett, the Patriots have brought aboard Chris Hogan this offseason to improve their receiving corps, as well. Hogan, who signed a $12 million offer sheet with the Patriots last week, has caught a combined 77 passes over the last two seasons The team also signed running back Donald Brown Wednesday.
Bennett is the second player this month who's jumped between the Bears and Patriots. Chicago inked defensive lineman Akiem Hicks to a two-year contract on Sunday.