By Dan Bernstein– senior columnist

(CBS) They don’t like him. Fine. That’s one part of the equation.

Bears coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace have never found tight end Martellus Bennett quite football-focused enough for their tastes, despite plenty of public comment to the contrary. And the relationship has already been testy. Bennett issued some non-complaint complaints in November about his role in the offense, acted out in frustration later that month in practice over a lack of red-zone opportunities, then was placed on season-ending injured reserve shortly thereafter.

He has a year left on his contract, and neither Fox nor Pace would discuss their plans for the outspoken veteran at the NFL Combine. Pace said, “We recognize he’s a talented, well-rounded tight end” who’s “under contract.” If the Bears have had enough, they could try to trade him for a draft pick like they did divisive loudmouth Brandon Marshall or cut him outright.

Or they could look at the limited options currently at the position and try to make it work. There’s nothing to draft this year by the way of tight ends, and the free-agent market is all old used cars.

Tackle Kyle Long campaigned outspokenly for Bennett during Super Bowl week, telling 670 The Score, “If I’m lining up next to Von Miller and I need some chip help, I’m calling Martellus Bennett. He’s a physical specimen. He’s a beast. He’s a guy that can really do anything, and he’s fun to be around.”

That may not be the case for Fox, but it may not be smart to so casually discard a proven playmaker. Bennett may be outspoken and different. He’s also good, and that has to matter.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Boers and Bernstein Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.