Bears add eighth tight end, claim Chris Pantale off waivers

The Chicago Bears announced they officially claimed former New York Jets tight end Chris Pantale off of waivers on Tuesday -- the eighth tight end on the club’s 90-man offseason roster.

The Bears have increased their numbers at tight end in recent weeks after starter Martellus Bennett decided to skip the voluntary offseason program because of a contract dispute.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported the Bears have explored trading Bennett, who has two years left on the four-year deal he signed in March 2013.

Bears head coach John Fox didn’t reveal much on Sunday when asked for an update on Bennett.

"As I mentioned before, the answer is not going to change much -- it is voluntary,” Fox said. “I prefer guys be here, but if they’re not, they’re not.”

Originally an undrafted rookie free agent out of Boston College, Pantale appeared in the Jets’ final five games in 2014 but did not catch a pass -- Pantale contributed mostly on special teams.

With the exception of those last five weeks, Pantale spent the majority of the past two seasons on New York’s practice squad.

The 6-foot-5 tight end started 43 of 45 games at Boston College where he finished his collegiate career with 98 receptions for 986 yards and seven touchdowns.

Patale joins an already crowded group at tight end, which also features Blake Annen, Jacob Maxwell, Zach Miller, Bear Pascoe, Dante Rosario and Brian Vogler.