(CBS) Joining his teammates at mandatory mini-camp Tuesday at Halas Hall after completely missing the voluntary offseason workout program under a new coaching staff, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett shed light on his reported contract dispute but also left the question of “What’s next?” open-ended.
Bennett has two years left on his current deal, and he’s set to be paid $4.9 million in 2015 and nearly $5.1 million in 2016. Bennett’s pay puts him in the middle tier of starting NFL tight ends, according to overthecap.com, and he desires a pay raise.
“Everybody, even you guys, should be lobbying for a new contract,” Bennett told reporters. “If your performance is at a high level, if you’re playing to a high level, then you want to be compensated for the level you’re playing at.
“Every American, every person in the whole world should be trying to get a new contract. And if they’re not, I feel like they’re silly. For me right now, just continue to work. You outperform whatever it is you need to do and you just come back and ball out.”
Bennett had a a career year in 2014, making the Pro Bowl after having 90 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in April that Bennett wouldn’t report to the Bears without a new contract.
On Tuesday, Bennett said it’s his intention to report to training camp in July as usual but when asked if there was any possibility of a holdout, he added, “There’s always a possibility — I take it one day at a time.”
Bennett largely acted as if his desire for a new contract wasn’t a contentious issue.
“Most people don’t honor their damn phone contracts,” he said. “They switch from Sprint to T-Mobile one year into it. So it’s just like being in an apartment and getting out of your lease because you want to find a better apartment. It’s all phases of life — we’re trying to do something better.”
Bennett wouldn’t confirm or deny if he asked for a trade this offseason, saying he leaves that to his agent and the Bears’ front office to work out. As for his absence from voluntary workouts — which certtainly didn’t please the Bears — he indicated it was business as usual.
“It’s cool to be out here,” Bennett said. “Same thing I do — just work out and enjoy my family, the same thing I do every year.
“I just do my own conditioning program.”