Martellus Bennett is fresh off of a Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons in one of the most historic comebacks in NFL history. The New England Patriots relied heavily on Bennett and he came through for them. After seeing Rob Gronkowski go down with injury, Bennett immediately became a security blanket for Tom Brady.
Standing in at 6-foot-6 and weighing 265 pounds, Bennett creates mismatches with opposing defenders nearly every play. Very few linebackers are able to keep up with him. That will make him extremely valuable on the free agency market this coming offseason and will make it tough for the Patriots to bring him back.
New England would likely like to bring Bennett back when free agency opens, but that is far from a sure thing.
According to a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL website, Bennett is unlikely to re-sign with the Patriots.
The #Patriots helped Martellus Bennett revive his career, and it’s a mutually respectful relationship. But keeping him in NE will be hard
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 22, 2017
Last season with the Patriots, Bennett ended up catching 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns. He is 29 years old, which likely means that he will be searching for another contender to join. Bennett could end up searching for money after winning a ring, but hunger to win more should drive him to sign with a winning team.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) February 22, 2017
Looking ahead at the upcoming free agency period, there are plenty of teams who could use an offensive threat like Bennett. The Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and perhaps the Cleveland Browns are among plenty of teams that could be interested in an upgrade at the tight end position.
Brady and the Patriots will also look to convince Bennett to return for another season. Pitching their Super Bowl run and the same role that he flourished in this season will give the talented tight end something to think about.
There is no telling what kind of deal Bennett will be searching for in free agency. He will likely prefer to sign a long-term deal, as he is heading out of the prime of his career. Bennett will still put up big numbers for the next three to four years, but after that he will begin trailing off and big contracts will be harder to come by.
Needless to say, it will be interesting to keep an eye on Bennett throughout the free agency period. There are going to be a lot of rumors flying around and there should be a lot of player movement. Whether Bennett ends up re-signing with the Patriots or not, he will have his pick of where to start the next chapter of his career.
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) February 22, 2017
At this point in time, Bennett is projected to get a deal worth around $6 million per season. That projection comes from Spotrac.
Bennett will have some competition on the free agency market when it comes to the tight end position. Other free agents like Jimmy Graham and Jared Cook will both be high-profile targets as well.
New England will also have a choice to make if Bennett ends up leaving town after just one season. Will they target another top-notch tight end in free agency or simply move forward and hope that Gronkowski can stay healthy? The Patriots’ offense worked very well with the two tight end system, but Bill Belichick and Brady have proven that they will continue succeeding no matter what the lineup looks like.
Expect to hear Bennett’s name mentioned early and often this offseason and don’t be surprised if he leaves the Patriots when everything is said and done.
Do you think the New England Patriots have a chance to re-sign Martellus Bennett? What teams do you think would be the best fits for him in free agency? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Daniel Gluskoter/AP Images for Panini]