Bennett could be next in line for payday


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With Roberto Garza now under contract through 2013 and the Matt Forte negotiations at a standstill, fourth-year wide receiver Earl Bennett seems to the next logical candidate to receive an extension from the Chicago Bears before his original rookie deal expires at the end of the season.

Bennett, a third-round draft pick in 2008, caught five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles, his first game back after he suffered a serious torso injury in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. The wideout made a combined 100 regular season receptions the past two seasons, establishing himself as the most consistent and reliable pass catcher on the roster.

Just don't expect Bennett to make his desire for a new contract a public ordeal.

"I'm under contract right now with the Bears to go out and play hard and help this team win," Bennett said Tuesday on ESPN 1000's "Football Night in Chicago". "I don't have time to think about that. All I can think about is trying to help us win.

"I love playing here. If they came to me, I would tell my agent, 'Hey, let's get it done.' I really love playing here, I love my teammates. The organization is great and I just love playing [here]."

The biggest variable for Bennett is health. He's become the Bears best weapon on third down - all five of his catches versus Philadelphia either moved the chains or resulted in a touchdown - and carved out a solid niche for himself in the Mike Martz system.

Bennett's only downfall has been a few injuries, the most notable being the torso injury that kept him on the sidelines for the five games prior to the Eagles matchup. He was also hurt for much of the 2010 preseason which contributed to his slow start in Martz's first season calling plays in Chicago.

If he can avoid missing any more time, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, a former teammate of Bennett's at Vanderbilt, believes the wideout will eventually get locked up to a new deal. In fact, Cutler told "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000, he plans to force the issue with Bears management.

“Someone is going to throw some money at that dude," Cutler said. "He can do it in all phases. Obviously, I want to keep him here, and I’m going to make a push for him, but we’ll see what happens.”

Tight end Kellen Davis, cornerback Zack Bowman, cornerback Corey Graham, quarterback Caleb Hanie, defensive end Israel Idonije, linebacker Brian Iwuh, cornerback Tim Jennings, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, safety Craig Steltz and receiver Roy Williams are among other Bears' players in the final year of their deals.