The Chicago Bears’ signing Tuesday of tight end Martellus Bennett to a four-year, $20 million contract made veterans Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth expendable, and both were released Wednesday.
The Bears also are expected to release veteran defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, according to a league source. Toeaina spent the last six seasons with the team but lost his starting job to Stephen Paea
The Bears apparently approached Toeaina’s camp about taking a paycut with one year left on his deal and they refused. He is due a base salary of $760,000 with a $290,000 roster bonus and $75,000 workout bonus. Releasing Toeaina would save the Bears $1.125 million in cap space as Toeaina would count $500,000 against the cap.
Davis, a former fifth-round draft pick from Michigan State whose release was announced by the team, never lived up to expectations despite being a big, athletic target. Last season, Davis caught 19 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns but had his share of drops. In five seasons with the Bears, he had 47 catches for 529 yards with 11 touchdowns. He started 35 of the 80 games he played in as a Bear.
Davis had a $2.4 million base salary with a $100,000 workout bonus. He would have counted $3.85 million against the cap if on the team and now counts $1.35 million against the cap after being released.
The Bears also parted ways with their other incumbent tight end, Spaeth confirmed. He had a base salary of $1.025 million with a $500,000 roster bonus and $100,000 workout bonus. He counts $333,334 against the cap after being released.
Spaeth, who signed a three-year contract with the Bears in 2011 after starting his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was a valuable all-purpose player last season. He started 16 games in two seasons with the Bears and caught 13 passes for 78 yards with three touchdowns.
Spaeth underwent minor arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 11 but said it was “no big deal” in terms of affecting his participation. He should be able to catch on elsewhere rather quickly.
With Davis and Spaeth now out of the mix, Evan Rodriguez might get a chance to be the backup pass-catching tight end behind Bennett. Rodriguez was used more as a fullback last season.
Profootballtalk.com first reported the news of Davis being released; ESPNChicago.com first reported Spaeth’s release.