Defensive end Michael Bennett spurned a sales pitch from his brother, Bears tight end Martellus, and decided to remain with the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks.
Reports from around the league said the Bears actually offered Michael Bennett more than the $28.5 million the Seahawks will pay him for the next four years. By re-signing, Michael Bennett takes himself off the market, which opens at 3 p.m. Tuesday. He was considered one of the top players eligible for free agency.
Early Monday the brothers appeared on an NFL Network feature in which Martellus, 27, one year younger than Michael, attempted to sell his older brother on family and the virtues of playing in Chicago.
But Martellus' gift for gab couldn't outweigh Michael wanting to remain with the Seahawks, for whom he had 8½ sacks last season while playing 57 percent of the snaps on one of the NFL's top defenses. The 6-foot-4, 271-pound Michael Bennett had 9 sacks the year before for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bears will continue looking for a more affordable alternative to their eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers, who is slated to count $18.1 million against the salary cap this season, including a base salary of $13.9 million.
That's an exorbitant amount for a player who is 34 and whose play slipped noticeably last season, when he had 7½ sacks, his lowest total in six years.
The next highest-rated defensive linemen on most free-agent lists are the Cincinnati's Michael Johnson and Oakland's Lamarr Houston, who are both 27.
The 6-7, 270-pound Johnson had just 3½ sacks last season but had 11½ in 2012. The 6-3, 302-pound Houston had 6 sacks last season and 4½ in 2012, but he might be a better fit at tackle in the Bears' scheme.
The Bears are shopping Peppers around the league but aren't expected to find any takers. So, unless he agrees to a large salary reduction, Peppers figures to be cut.
The Bears began paring their payroll Monday by cutting two backups, running back Michael Bush and tight end Dante Rosario.
Bush's departure will net the Bears a savings of $1.85 million. They save the $3.85 million he would have counted against the cap but are on the hook for the $2 million prorated portion remaining on the $4 million signing bonus that came with his $14 million, four-year deal in 2012.
The durability and all-around effectiveness of starter Matt Forte made Bush, who will be 30 in June, expendable. Bush carried the ball just 63 times last season and averaged only 3.1 yards per carry; he caught 4 passes for 48 yards.
The 27-year-old Forte enjoyed the most productive season of his six-year career, rushing for 1,339 yards on 289 carries (4.6-yard average) and catching 74 passes for 595 yards.
Rosario had just re-signed Feb. 27 to a one-year deal for $855,000.
The seven-year veteran played in 15 games for the Bears last season and started three times when the Bears opened in a two-tight end formation. The 6-3, 242-pound Oregon product caught 1 pass for 13 yards last season and had 5 special-teams tackles.
Originally a fifth-round pick of Carolina in 2007, Rosario's most productive seasons came in his final two years with the Panthers, when he caught a combined 58 passes for 577 yards.
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