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Bears trade tight end Martellus Bennett to Patriots

Tight end Martellus Bennett. (AP)

The Bears have traded tight end Martellus Bennett to the Patriots, sources confirmed Wednesday night. The Bears are receiving a fourth-round pick in exchange for Bennett and a sixth-round selection. ESPN first reported the trade.

Before the deal with the Patriots, the Bears had three sixth-round draft selections in this year’s draft, the result of trading Jared Allen to the Panthers and Jon Bostic to Patriots during last season. It’s the sixth-round pick for Bostic (204th pick) that was sent back to the Patriots.

The trade, itself, isn’t surprising. Bennett was widely expected to be playing elsewhere in 2016. His agent, Kennard McGuire, was involved in trade talks.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, neither general manager Ryan Pace nor coach John Fox offered much support for Bennett, saying only that he remained under contract and that they had others to worry about.

The Bears’ new brass struggled to warm to Bennett after he sat out the voluntary portions of Fox’s first offseason program in his pursuit of a new contract.

After returning and maintaing a low profile for most of the regular season, Bennett voiced his frustrations on Nov. 4 when he questioned his role in coordinator Adam Gase’s offense. It came after he had three catches on five targets for 32 yards in a loss to the Vikings.

Bennett sat out the Bears’ big win against the Packers on Thanksgiving night because of a fractured rib, which he suffered a week earlier against the Broncos. He later said he didn’t watch the Bears’ victory live on television.

Bennett returned to make three catches for 14 yards against the 49ers on Dec. 4. Four days later, he was placed on IR. The move said plenty about Bennett’s status, considering his willingness to often play through injuries.

Bennett’s issues began before Pace and Fox arrived at Halas Hall. Members of former coach Marc Trestman’s staff also grew increasingly frustrated with Bennett.

In three seasons with the Bears, Bennett, who was signed to a four-year, $20.4 million contract in 2013, made 208 catches for 2,114 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2014.