I guess the debate over who will be the Chicago Bears‘ slot receiver for this upcoming season has been answered in the latest news. Rumor has it that wide receiver Earl Bennett has rejected the team’s proposed pay cut. Because of this, he is expected to be released very soon.
In Bennett, you have one of Jay Cutler’s favorite targets as they have known each other for almost a decade. The duo was a force in their one year of college together at Vanderbilt University where Bennett set multiple SEC receiving records.
Coming off of this past season, people wondered whether the Bears’ slot receiver position would be won by Bennett or Marquess Wilson. Wilson was certainly ready to compete to be that guy this year as he has been spending time down in Florida with fellow receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, working to refine his skills. This move would all but assure his role on the team next year.
This is an understandable move by the Bears as the money that Bennett was set to make this season — just about a $2 million cap hit — was predicated from the days where he was one of the Bears’ top go-to receivers. Now that Marshall and Jeffery have emerged as arguably the league’s top receiving tandem, Matt Forte being one of the top receiving running backs, and the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett paying huge dividends, it becomes increasingly unjustifiable to pay Earl Bennett that type of money as a fourth or fifth receiving option.
His yards per reception average dipped to just over seven yards this past season even though he set a new career high in touchdown receptions. To be honest, even if Bennett’s release goes through, there is still some thought that he would be welcomed back if he were ready to accept that pay cut. Executives should surround Cutler with as many familiar faces as they can to keep him comfortable in this offense.