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Bears release WR Earl Bennett

3/19/2014

Chicago Bears receiver Earl Bennett had his contract terminated, the team announced.

ESPNChicago.com reported earlier Tuesday that Bennett was expected to be released after he refused to trim his salary for a second consecutive year, according to a source.

Bennett took a pay cut in 2013 and lowered his salary by $1 million.

Bennett had a cap number of $1.35 million (after the reduction) last year, but was scheduled to count $2.45 million against the Bears' cap in 2014 and earn a total of $2.45 million (that included a $100,000 roster bonus).

Bennett finished 2013 with 32 receptions for 243 yards and four touchdowns, but he had to miss the final game of the year versus the Green Bay Packers to be with his ailing brother who tragically died in the offseason.

When healthy, Bennett was a reliable target throughout his Bears career. After not catching a single pass his rookie year (2008), Bennett had 185 receptions for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns over the past five seasons in just 78 regular-season games.

Bennett is now free to sign with another team.

The Bears also have asked veteran kick returner/wide receiver Eric Weems to take a pay cut from the $1.1 million total salary he is scheduled to earn in 2014, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Weems is expected to be released if he declines the proposed salary reduction, per the source.