An intriguing tight end hit the open market Wednesday when the Green Bay Packers released tight end Martellus Bennett. Would the New England Patriots want to dance with Bennett again?
Bennett, who was dealing with a shoulder injury, was released with a “failure to disclose physical condition” designation. So, should the Patriots make a call and try to bolster their tight end depth by bringing back Bennett? It sure makes a lot of sense.
Dwayne Allen, who was supposed to serve as Bennett’s replacement this season after coming over in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, doesn’t have a reception on six targets. Allen hasn’t been targeted since Week 4 despite playing all eight games in 2017.
Patriots starting tight end Rob Gronkowski has 34 catches for 509 yards with five touchdowns on the season. Third-string rookie tight end Jacob Hollister has three receptions for 37 yards.
Bennett, who caught 55 passes on 73 targets for 701 yards with seven touchdowns last season, has 24 catches for 233 yards without a score in seven games with the Packers.
The Patriots’ have struggled in the red zone as of late. Having another massive tight end for Tom Brady to target in those situations certainly wouldn’t hurt.
There are some complications. Since it’s after the bye week, Bennett will have to pass through waivers, and the Patriots are low in the pecking order since they have a 6-2 record (it’s ranked to benefit the worst teams). Bennett signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Packers. His new team will take on 8/17ths of his $900,000 2017 salary and $37,500 46-man active roster bonuses if they claim him.
Bennett also said he was considering retirement after the season. If he does retire after the season, then his new team wouldn’t need to worry about the ramifications of him being on a three-year deal.
The Patriots could put in a waiver claim on Bennett or hope no one else does so they could sign him to a new contract. Regardless, the Patriots absolutely should be interested in bringing a tight end upgrade as talented as Bennett aboard.
Bennett, for all of his peculiarities, worked out well for the Patriots in their Super Bowl LI-championship season. Gronkowski got hurt, and Bennett filled in admirably as the Patriots did the unthinkable by winning a Super Bowl without their star tight end.
Signing Bennett would allow the Patriots to help Gronkowski stay healthy. He also could just serve as valuable insurance in case Gronkowski does get banged up again. With wide receiver Chris Hogan nursing a shoulder injury, the Patriots also could turn to more two-tight end looks.
It’s obvious the Patriots cannot trust Allen to do what Bennett accomplished last season by taking over Gronkowski’s workload while only slightly missing a beat. The Patriots’ offense would suffer significantly if Gronkowski got hurt, and it’s entirely possible their Super Bowl hopes would be dashed.
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