Bears cut Earl BennettContinue reading.
Bears hope to develop Marquess Wilson after releasing ‘valuable’ Earl Bennett
ORLANDO, Fla. — Receiver Earl Bennett emerged as a threat late in Bears coach Marc Trestman’s offense last season, but is still a valuable part that needs to be replaced.
Just ask Trestman. He said Sunday at the NFL owners meetings that Bennett was “absolutely” becoming a viable piece of his offensive attack, catching 18 of his 32 passes during a five-game stretch in the second half of the season.
Bennett was released last week after a declining to take a pay cut for the second consecutive season. He should generate considerable interest on the free-agent market.
“You don’t want to lose guys,” Trestman said. “Earl was a valuable guy. The process of working through free agency and everything, it was just part of it.”
Now, the focus is on developing second-year receiver Marquess Wilson. He will compete with veteran Domenik Hixon, who was recently signed to a one-year contract, for the No. 3 receiver spot behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
“We’re excited about having Marquess and having Dom Hixon with us,” Trestman said. “We’ll just get going in the OTAs and see how it goes.”
Wilson, a seventh-round pick from Washington State, was active for 10 games last season. He had two catches for 13 yards. At 6-4 and 184 pounds, Wilson is bigger than Bennett, but he still has to gain the confidence of quarterback Jay Cutler and his coaches. But the Bears are very high on Wilson, who was only 20 years old when he was drafted.
“We’re excited about developing Marquess,” Trestman said. “That’s the approach that we’re taking. These are the guys that are with us. We’re going to work hard to try to develop him and get him ready to play.”