He flashed potential, and Kellen Davis was given every opportunity to fill the void left by Greg Olsen.
But Davis, a 2008 fifth-round pick, ultimately disappointed.
He had the size, the speed, and he could block and catch. But he struggled with consistency, and his productivity in clutch situations left much to be desired.
In January, after Davis had 19 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns, Bears general manager Phil Emery acknowledged that the tight end had a “rough season.”
Now he’s gone.
The Bears signed Martellus Bennett to a four-year, $20 million contract Tuesday, and they released Davis this morning, a move that will clear $2.5 million in salary cap space.
Last offseason, ironically, the Bears could have signed Bennett to a much cheaper deal. After playing behind eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten in Dallas, Bennett wanted a starting job, and he eventually settled on a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the New York Giants. The Bears, meanwhile, signed Davis to a two-year, $6 million contract that included $2.7 million guaranteed.
They didn’t get their money’s worth.
Now Davis, finishing his five-year stint with the Bears with a solid 11 touchdowns but just 47 catches for 529 yards. Bennett had 55 catches for 626 yards and five touchdowns last season alone.
The Bears clearly are better at the position. Bennett is a more proven and consistent run blocker as well as pass catcher. His 40-time isn’t as fast as Davis, but Bennett is explosive for his size.
And while defenses ignored Davis, Bennett will command respect, giving the Bears more options on every down, in every situation.
According to a league source, the Pittsburgh Steelers could be an eventual landing spot for Davis. The Steelers have very little cap space, and they have a need at tight end.
More releases and restructures could be on tap for the Bears, after a productive opening day of free agency.