Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Bears free agency: Good and bad
By Michael C. Wright
Here's the third part of our look at some of Chicago's best and worst free-agent acquisitions over the past five years. Feel free to add some of your own in the comments section:
Good: Martellus Bennett
Position: Tight end
Contract: Four years, $20.4 million, $9.215 million guaranteed
Years of service with Bears: 2013-present
Recap: The Bears set out last year in free agency to find a dynamic middle-of-the-field threat and landed the affable Bennett, who quickly fit in with quarterback Jay Cutler, receiver Brandon Marshall and the other offensive players. Bennett also established a relationship with head coach Marc Trestman, who played catch with the tight end almost every day after practice. Bennett set career highs last season in receptions (65) and receiving yardage (759). Bennett also tied a career high in receiving touchdowns (five). Bennett ranked eighth among tight ends in receptions, tied for ninth in yards and tied for 12th in TDs. He is now one of eight tight ends in the league to gain more than 1,000 receiving yards (1,385) and catch 10 TD passes over the last two years. Bennett's 65 catches ranked second in franchise history for a tight end, behind Hall of Famer Mike Ditka (75 catches in 1964).
"I feel like I'm the most attractive person on anybody's offense, no matter what team I'm on," Bennett said. "When you look this good, how could you not want to be around? I'm the GQ of football. I just want to have a better season. I just want to be the best possible Martellus. I'm excited about the future and the things that I'm doing here."
Bad: Chilo Rachal
Position: Left guard
Contract: One year, $700,000
Years of service with Bears: 2012
Recap: Rachal supplanted Chris Spencer as the starter after the second game of the 2012 season and started in eight consecutive contests before a horrid outing at San Francisco cost him his job. With Jay Cutler out due to a concussion, backup Jason Campbell started at quarterback and took a beating during a 32-7 loss. Campbell absorbed six sacks. Soon after, former offensive coordinator Mike Tice announced he was benching Rachal and fellow offensive lineman Gabe Carimi during a team meeting. Rachal didn't take the demotion well and ended up leaving Halas Hall after meeting with former coach Lovie Smith. Rachal was expected to attend a team meeting the next day but missed it. The club felt that Rachal handled the demotion unprofessionally but expressed concerned about his mental state. Eventually, the Bears put Rachal on the reserve/left team list, making him ineligible to play for the rest of the season, which was interesting considering Lance Louis was lost for the year in the team's next game against the Minnesota Vikings. Rachal never played another down for the Chicago Bears. The Arizona Cardinals signed Rachal last April to a one-year deal worth $715,000, but the team released him at the end of training camp. Rachal hasn't played a regular-season snap since the fiasco at San Francisco on Nov. 19, 2012.