Call him the Black Unicorn or the Orange Dinosaur, but Martellus Bennett was the Bears’ best tight end since Mike Ditka — and also one oftheir most singular personalities. The latter, combined with a contract demand last offseason, led the Bears to trade him to thePatriots, with asixth-rounder, for a fourth-round pick, on Wednesday.
Here’s a look at the ups and downs ofBennett’s Bears career.
March 12, 2013
Bennett signs a four-year deal with the Bears worth $20.4 million.
“I see a player who has matured since coming out of Texas A&M, and he proved that with his production and his play this past year,” GM Phil Emery said at the time. “He’s someone who still has a lot of upside to develop. Because of his athletic ability and play speed, we think he’s only going to get better and grow as a Bear and help us win football games.”
Jan. 27, 2014
Michael Bennett, the Seahawks’ defensive lineman, said his brother was lobbying for him to join the Bears in free agency.
“I know he wants me to come out and play with him,” Michael said during Super Bowl week. “That’s his dream: for us to both play on the same team.
“I think that’s my parents’ dream.I wouldn’t mind playing with my brother. I love playing for this team right now.”
Later, Michael said the “Bears offered way more money” but he preferred returning to the Super Bowl champs.
Aug. 4, 2014
Bennett bodyslams rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller during a training camp practice. Asked if he feared he would be fined, Bennett was feisty.
“I can afford it,” he said.
He was soon suspended for five days.
“I did everything they asked me to do,” he said upon returning. “That’s why I’m standing in front of y’all right now. Everything they asked me to do I did. And I did it exceptionally well.”
Jan. 19, 2015
Bennett makes his first Pro Bowl — the first for a Bears tight end since Mike Ditka 40 years earlier — after Rob Gronkowski gets a Super Bowl berth. His 90 catches led all tight ends.
June 16, 2015
Bennett does not attend Bears’ offseason voluntary activitiesunder new coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace while lobbying for a new contract. Hereturns to Halas Hall under threat of a fine.
He is unwavering.
It later proves to be a bad first impression to Pace and Fox.
“I think every American, every person in the whole world should be trying to get a new contract,” he said. “And if they’re not, it’s silly.”
In Chicago magazine, Bennett says he only likes quarterback Jay Cutler sometimes.
“Why does everyone always assume the quarterback is the leader?” he asked. “Leading the offense and leading the team are two different things. Sometimes I like Cutty, and sometimes I don’t. When I think of a leader, I think, ‘If he started a company, would guys come to work for him?’ There’s a lot of guys on our team who, if they started a business, it’d be, ‘(Screw) you, I’m gonna go work at McDonald’s.’ ”
Oct. 4, 2015
Bennett compares Cutler to Jesus.
“They threw rocks at Jesus,” he said, “and Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff.”
Nov. 5, 2015
Bennett critiques his role in the Bears offense despite being third in the NFL in targets for a tight end.
“I just kinda keep my head down and go to work,” he said. “Because when you say something, you become the a–hole, even if it’s a valid point. So I just avoid drama.”
So it’s not worth it to be difficult?
“Not in this league,” he said. “They don’t play the a–holes.”
He then invoked fellow tight ends: the Seahawks’ Jimmy Graham, Jaguars’ Julius Thomas and Chargers’ Antonio Gates.
“Jimmy can’t block worth (expletive) … ” he said.
“They get a lot of credit, a lot of love, but Julius doesn’t block nobody, Gates doesn’t really block anybody, but they do a great job in the passing game.
“It all depends on the system you’re in.“
He spoke glowingly of Gates’ role in the Chargers’ offense.
“He’s their No. 1 target, and I’m like, third, fourth,” Bennett said. “So that’s been my whole career.
“Even last year, year before that. But I still make plays.”
Nov. 22, 2015
Down two against the Broncos, Bennett is one of the Bears to not block on a failed two-point conversion with 24 seconds left.
“I’m not going to get into scheme or what we were doing schematically,” Fox said. “Obviously it came up short.”
Nov. 26, 2015
Bennett doesn’t make the trip to Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving because of an injury.
He later said he didn’t watch the game live, either.
“My wife watched the game,” Bennett said. “I heard a lot of jumping up and down, stuff like that. I felt like I was watching it.”
Dec. 3, 2015
Jay Cutler refutes any claim of friction between he and Bennett.
“I haven’t heard him say anything, either publicly or privately, that he’s angry about anything,” Cutler said.
Dec. 8, 2015
Bennett is placed on injured reserve with a ribs injury, ostensibly ending his Bears career.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley