Chicago Bears Sign Tight End Martellus Bennett and Tackle Jermon Bushrod

Matt BarbatoCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 09:  Martellus Bennett #85 of the New York Giants celebrates his touchdown in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints on December 9, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears began the NFL free-agency period with a bang by signing former New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett to a four-year deal, according to ESPN's Michael C. Wright, and former New Orleans Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a five-year deal, according to ESPN's Kevin Seifert. 

According to Adam Schefter, Bennett's deal is worth $20 million over four years. Bushrod's deal is worth $35.965 million over five years, making him the highest paid offensive lineman in franchise history, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Bennett, a 6'6" tight end, thrived in New York in his first season as a starter. Bennett caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns and was a nice safety valve for Eli Manning. Bushrod has protected the blind side of Drew Brees for the past five years and has been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons.

Both signings addressed major weaknesses for Chicago. Kellen Davis, despite his impressive build, was a disappointment at tight end, catching only 19 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett has a similar build but can stretch the field and block effectively.

The biggest deal of the day for Chicago was Bushrod's. The Bears have been desperate for a left tackle since Jay Cutler arrived in Chicago in 2009. The Bears experiment at the position has included trial runs by Orlando Pace, Chris Williams, Frank Omiyale and J'Marcus Webb—all of whom failed miserably.

Although the Bears have made two big improvements on the offense, there is still work to be done. The Bears are trying to re-sign right guard Lance Louis and may need to find a replacement for left guard Chris Spencer. Center and right tackle could be positions that Chicago might address as well. Luckily, this year's draft is filled with impressive offensive line prospects.

The Bears certainly are not finished making improvements, but the team has addressed two of its biggest flaws in an enormous way.