Bears release WR Earl Bennett

Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com Earl Bennett warms up prior to the start of the game with the Lions Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

With a $2.45 million cap hit facing him in 2014, Earl Bennett's time with the Bears has come to an end. The team released the seventh-year wideout on Tuesday, according to the league's transaction wire.

Bennett has spent all six of his NFL seasons with the Bears. He took a pay cut prior to last season and appeared in 15 games with three starts. Bennett caught 32 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns, including game-sealing scores in wins over the Steelers and Browns.

Jay Cutler's college teammate, Bennett has been a reliable No. 3 and slot receiver with the Bears, though he only played a full 16-game season once — he had 717 receiving yards in 2009.

Last season, Bennett missed the preseason with a concussion. He missed the season finale against the Packers to be with his brother, who passed away. 

In the 15 games he played in 2013, Bennett was on the field for 53.8 percent of the snaps. The Bears' most commonly used offensive formation had Bennett on the field, and that personnel grouping averaged 5.94 yards a play with Cutler and 6.51 with Josh McCown.

Marquess Wilson, who had two catches in 10 games as a rookie last season, will get the first crack at being the No. 3 receiver next season. He went to Florida to train with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and the team has high hopes for the youngster.

Newcomer Domenik Hixon, who has plenty of receiver experience, will also factor into the mix. Look for the Bears to address the position with another veteran or in the draft as well.

Bennett, who turns 27 next week, shouldn't be on the street long. Plenty of teams need help at receiver. The Bears clear that $2.45 million of cap space and don't have to eat any dead money with the cut.

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