Earl Bennett

NFC North Notes: Suh, Bennett, Packers

J.J. Watt‘s new contract could affect their Lions and their plans regarding Ndamukong Suh, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Watt arguably has been the NFL’s most destructive player the last two seasons. He had 20.5 sacks and 16 pass deflections in 2012, 10.5 sacks last year, and is two years younger than Suh. Still, Suh has the threat of free agency as leverage for a new deal. Here’s tonight’s look at the NFC North..

  • When asked why free agent wide receiver Earl Bennett wasn’t called to replace the injured Marquess Wilson, Bears GM Phil Emery said, “Don’t assume that Earl was not called,” according to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times (on Twitter).
  • The Packers have worked out offensive linemen Michael BamiroManase Foketi, and Adam Gettis, as well as cornerback Robert Steeples, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). Earlier today Green Bay worked out quarterbacks Jeff Mathews, Pat Devlin, and Jon Jennings.
  • The Bears auditioned linebacker Nate Askew and defensive backs Shamiel Gary and Josh Thomas, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

NFC Notes: Brent, Wilson, Bears, Foles

Former Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent is meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week in the hopes of being reinstated to the league after serving a 180-day prison sentence for intoxication manslaughter. And if he’s reinstated, he’ll have a roster spot available in Dallas, according to team owner Jerry Jones (link via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

“We will, yes we will,” Jones said, when asked if the Cowboys would create an opening for Brent. “In other words, we wouldn’t have it today, but we will make a roster spot.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Even with David Wilson no longer on the roster, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin thinks his team has enough running backs, tweets Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
  • As for Wilson, despite his retirement due to injury, he’ll be eligible to collect his full $998K salary for 2014 while on injured reserve, as well as half of his $1.3MM salary for 2015, writes Eben Novy-Williams of Bloomberg.
  • It sounds as if the Bears will add a wide receiver to their roster soon after potential No. 3 wideout Marquess Wilson suffered a fractured clavicle this week. In his latest mailbag, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune explores the possibility of the club re-signing Earl Bennett, who was cut earlier in the offseason and was subsequently signed and released by the Browns.
  • In a piece for The Sporting News, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap breaks down how Andy Dalton‘s new contract compares to other quarterback deals, suggesting that it may represent the return of the middle class market. The Dalton extension may also provide a blueprint for Nick Foles and the Eagles, according to Fitzgerald, since Philadelphia has a similar cap situation to the Bengals and Foles, like Dalton, still has a few question marks.
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk takes a look at perhaps the oddest detail of Colin Kaepernick‘s extension with the 49ers, which involves the disability policy the quarterback had to purchase as part of the deal.

Browns Cut Earl Bennett

5:49pm: The Browns will absorb $75K of Bennett’s $730K base salary, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.

3:55pm: With Josh Gordon facing a lengthy suspension, the Browns attempted to bolster their receiving corps with a handful of modest free agent signings this offseason. However, one veteran wideout signed by Cleveland is already heading back to free agency. The Browns announced today (via Twitter) that they’ve terminated the contract of former Bear Earl Bennett, who inked a deal with the club just over a month ago.

Bennett, who spent several seasons with the Bears after being drafted by the team in the third round in 2008, was cut earlier in the offseason after Chicago tried and failed to find a trade partner. The 27-year-old hasn’t been a starting wideout since 2009, but posted decent numbers in part-time action over the last few years, catching between 24 and 46 balls for an average of 390 yards per season and 10 overall touchdowns from 2010-2013. However, it seems that the Cleveland brass saw enough this spring to convince them that Bennett wasn’t worth a longer look in training camp.

With Bennett no longer in the mix, the Browns should head into training camp with a group of receivers that includes Gordon and newcomers Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, and Nate Burleson.

Browns Sign Earl Bennett

MAY 21: Bennett got the minimum salary from the Browns, but $75K of his base salary is guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).

MAY 15: The Browns have officially signed wide receiver Earl Bennett, the team announced today (via Twitter). The move, which was first reported by Jake Jones of KFBB TV (via Twitter), comes on the heels of Cleveland also adding veteran receiver Miles Austin.

Bennett, who spent several seasons with the Bears after being drafted by the team in the third round in 2008, was cut earlier in the offseason after Chicago tried and failed to find a trade partner. The 27-year-old Bennett hasn’t been a starting wideout since 2009, but posted decent numbers in part-time action over the last few years, catching between 24 and 46 balls for an average of 390 yards per season and 10 overall touchdowns from 2010-2013.

With the Browns, Bennett should have an opportunity to earn a roster spot and immediate targets, particularly if Josh Gordon is suspended for most or all of the season, as is expected. Bennett will join Miles Austin, Nate Burleson, and Andrew Hawkins as newcomers to Cleveland’s receiving corps this summer.

Florida Notes: Incognito, Bucs, Jaguars

Speaking to WSVN in Miami, free agent guard Richie Incognito suggested yesterday that he remains on track to return to the NFL following last year’s bullying scandal and recent treatment for erratic behavior. As James Walker of ESPN.com details, Incognito would like come back to Miami and play for his old team.

“Returning to the Dolphins was my number one goal from the time I got suspended,” Incognito said. “I want to return to the community in Miami and resume my playing career as soon as possible.”

Even with Jonathan Martin now in San Francisco, the odds of Incognito playing in Miami again, for a Dolphins team now hyper-conscious of public relations, seems virtually impossible. Here’s more on the free agent offensive lineman and a couple other notes on the NFL’s Florida teams:

  • In a separate piece at ESPN.com, Walker agrees that while some NFL team may be willing to take a chance on signing Incognito for the 2014 season, that team won’t be the Dolphins.
  • Discussing an interview conducted with head coach Lovie Smith by the Buccaneers‘ official website, Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune notes that the team still feels as if it has a few more moves left to make in free agency. Cummings adds that there’s a chance Earl Bennett, recently released by Chicago, could interest the ex-Bears head coach.
  • The Jaguars were focused on free agency up until this Tuesday, but GM Dave Caldwell suggests to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union that about 95% of the club’s attention has now shifted to the draft, meaning there likely won’t be many more free agent additions in Jacksonville. Caldwell also weighed in on the Jags’ additions of Jason Babin and Chris Clemons, among other topics.

Bears Release Earl Bennett

3:40pm: The Bears have officially cut Bennett, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).

2:20pm: The Bears have shopped Bennett in trade talks, his contract and the inevitably of his release make a deal unlikely, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

12:50pm: Earlier this month, we heard that the Bears hadn’t asked wide receiver Earl Bennett to take a pay cut, but that has changed within the last couple weeks. According to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago (via Twitter), Bennett declined the Bears’ request to reduce his pay, and the team appears likely to release the veteran receiver.

With two years remaining on his contract, Bennett is no longer owed any guaranteed money, so the Bears could clear his entire $2.45MM cap number for 2014 from their books by cutting him. Bennett, who has been with Chicago since being drafted by the team in the third round in 2008, finished last season as the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. 2013 draft pick Marquess Wilson has now emerged as the early favorite to fill that role, according to Dickerson (via Twitter).

Dickerson also reported that the Bears were in a similar situation with receiver and return man Eric Weems, who will likely be cut if he doesn’t accept a pay cut. It’s not clear if he has made a decision one way or the other yet though.

Extra Points: Collins, Bears, Cowboys, Jags

With Eugene Monroe, Branden Albert, and Jared Veldheer all seemingly on the verge of reaching unrestricted free agency, it’ll be an active market for left tackles and the teams seeking them. But the Bengals are hoping to stay out of the mix by locking up Anthony Collins before free agency begins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Collins should draw a good deal of interest if he becomes available, as Rapoport suggests.

Here’s more from around the NFL on a Friday afternoon:

  • The Bears haven’t asked wide receiver Earl Bennett to take a pay cut, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com (Twitter link), and fellow ESPN scribe Michael C. Wright says (via Twitter) that’s the case for defensive end Julius Peppers as well. Of course, there’s still some time for Chicago to approach both players, if the team needs to create some flexibility.
  • By officially releasing Phil Costa and restructuring Mackenzy Bernadeau‘s contract, the Cowboys are now about $2MM under the cap with free agency around the corner, tweets ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. That doesn’t necessarily mean the team is done cutting costs though — I’d still expect DeMarcus Ware‘s deal to be addressed in some form.
  • As for Costa, Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com tweets that the Cowboys asked if the veteran center would take a pay cut. Costa declined, as he feels he’ll garner interest elsewhere.
  • After re-signing with the Jaguars today, Chad Henne spoke to the media and admitted that he wanted to talk to other teams, but Jacksonville was his No. 1 choice and he decided to forgo the open market when the club made an offer he liked. Meanwhile, head coach Gus Bradley indicated that re-signing Henne doesn’t mean the Jaguars won’t draft a quarterback in May (Twitter links via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com).
  • Punter Pat McAfee told reporters, including Craig Kelley of Colts.com (Twitter link), that he “didn’t really want” to hit free agency and is happy to have re-signed with the Colts.

Zach Links contributed to this post.