Martellus Bennett bristled at the notion things didn’t work out with the Bears.
“I thought I played very well in Chicago,” he said Thursday, one day after he was traded, along with a Bears sixth-round pick, for the Patriots’ fourth. “I put up great numbers, did some great things, made my first Pro Bowl over there. Statistically I thought it was a great job.
“We had a coaching change, organizational change. The guys I came in to play for changed. So it was just another change.”
His teammates adjusted to the change. Quarterback Jay Cutler, for one, got better with Adam Gase’s tutelage.
Bennett, though, annoyed his new bosses by staying away last offseason in search of a new contract. He later rubbed them the wrong way with his concerns about his involvement in the offense.
Bennett wasn’t a locker room menace, but he didn’t fit the John Fox ethos nonetheless.
Former GM Phil Emery knew Bennett’s quirks before he signed him. In practice, Marc Trestman often jogged alongside Bennett back to the huddle to move the Black Unicorn from a lollygag to a gallop.
Both were gone after Bennett’s Pro Bowl season, in which he led all NFL tight ends with 90 catches.
Bennett admitted Thursday to being prepared for a trade — since the team placed him on injured reserve with a ribs injury in December, it seemed inevitable — but wouldn’t say if his relationship with the Bears soured.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You have to ask them. I feel like Fox and those guys, I talked to them, and we were cool. I just think it was just time for a change. I don’t take it personal.”
GM Ryan Pace was magnanimous in a release, wishing Bennett the best and saying that, “in a perfect world, a trade is a win-win for both sides.”
Bennett, indeed, will benefit from playing alongside Rob Gronkowski and in the Patriots’ notoriously disciplined structure. Asked whether he’d push for a new contract in New England or play out his final year, Bennett said he leaves those decisions to his agent.
He said he’ll try to be like a dandelion, blowing whichever way the wind blows. A familiar face will head east with him — linebacker Shea McClellin, who reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Patriots.
“The last two years, Shea has grown a lot as a player,” Bennett said. “Just watching him grow, becoming a better linebacker, running around, changing his body. He’s an excellent guy. He’s a great teammate, a great human being overall, but he’s just a really fun guy to play with. And he brings it every single week. That’s all you can ask for as a teammate.”
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