On a conference call with New England reporters on Thursday, Martellus Bennett sidestepped multiple questions about what prompted the Bears to trade a former Pro Bowl tight end who is only 29.
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask them,” Bennett said.
“I feel like talk to those guys, you have to talk to them. We were cool. I think it’s just time for change. I’m all about the future so I’m a progressive person.”
Bennett took issue with those who tried to paint his time in Chicago in a negative light, citing his combined 208 receptions for 2,114 yards and 14 touchdowns as evidence to the contrary.
The Bears, however, did not qualify for the postseason in any of Bennett’s three years with the club, winning only 19 games from 2013-15.
“I don’t think it didn’t work out in Chicago,” Bennett said. “I thought I played very well in Chicago. I put up great numbers, did some great things, made my first Pro Bowl there. Statistically I thought it was a great job. We had a coaching change, an organization change. The guys I came in to play for changed, so it was just another change.”
Bears general manager Ryan Pace called the deal a “win-win” for both parties, even though Chicago received only a fourth-round pick and had to send an additional sixth-round choice to the Patriots for Bennett, who is fifth among NFL tight ends in catches since 2013.
Bennett’s 208 career receptions for the Bears rank third in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Mike Ditka (316) and Desmond Clark (242).
“We will continue to pursue all avenues to make our team better as we prepare for the 2016 season,” Pace said. “In a perfect world, a trade is a win-win for both sides and we believe there is upside to all parties involved in this deal. We were able to acquire a higher pick to help us continue to build our team. We wish Martellus nothing but the best as he continues his career in New England.”
Chicago currently has three tight ends under contract -- Zach Miller, Rob Housler and Khari Lee. While Miller is the clear front-runner to replace Bennett in the starting lineup, don’t be surprised if the Bears still look to strengthen the position throughout the offseason and via the draft next month.