After signing offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod and tight end Martellus Bennett on the first day of free agency Tuesday, the Chicago Bears formally introduced their two new starters Wednesday at Halas Hall.
Bushrod is a two-time Pro Bowler who secured the Saints’ offensive line the past four seasons and assisted New Orleans win the Super Bowl in 2009. Bennett is a complete tight end who set career highs with 55 receptions, 626 yards and five touchdowns last season with the Giants.
“We were able to bring in two high-quality starters at key positions,” said general manager Phil Emery during a press conference.
The Bears signed Bushrod and Bennett to deals approaching a collective $60 million, and looked to offset that by jettisoning tight ends Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, along with defensive tackle Matt Toeiana to reach $5.25 million in salary cap savings.
Emery alleged that the gaining of the two don’t “shut us down” in possibly adding more to the roster, but admitted “there’s not a lot of room to wiggle” with the salary cap.
“It just means that every signing is gonna be scrutinized in terms of us, in terms of current cap implications and future,” Emery said.
“There aren’t a lot of dollars in terms of — I don’t want to say frivolous — but there’s not a lot of room to wiggle. So when we talk contract negotiations with free agents and the implications of those, definitely that’s always in the forefront for us. We are up against the cap.”
The Bears entered free agency with around $7 million in cap space. Bushrod counts a little more than $3 million against the cap for 2013, while Bennett will carry a cap hit of $1.94 million.
“We got two really fine people and very good players,” said coach Marc Trestman on the Chicago Bears website. “We’ve got two quality guys, two guys that are ascending at their work at this stage of their lives. Every day we’re going to try to get our team better and this was a great start to doing that.”