ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter has reported that the New England Patriots have acquired tight-end Martellus Bennett from the Chicago Bears Wednesday.
Bennett suffered a rib injury that limited him to just 11 games last season with the struggling Chicago Bears where he finished with 53 receptions for 439 yards and three touchdowns. Prior to that, he put together a monster year in 2014 with Jay Cutler as his quarterback, where he grabbed 90 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns — all career highs.
The Bears have known for some time now that they would be going into the 2016 season without their star tight-end and have since been trying to trade Bennett but did not garner much interest from opposing teams until New England’s offer.
Bennett and the Bears fell out of favor when the tight end boycotted the entire voluntary portion of the Bears’ 2015 offseason program but did participate in the club’s mandatory mini and training camp to avoid a fine from the league.
Along with the offseason dilemma, Bennett openly questioned his lack of involvement in the Bear’s offensive game plan, which eventually began to lean more towards fellow tight end Zach Miller in the second half of the season.
“I have a lot of responsibilities in the offense,” Bennett told ESPN‘s Jeff Dickerson when asked about his fallout. “You guys have to talk toJay Cutler and [offensive coordinator] Adam Gase about [if my role has changed in recent weeks]. I’m just trying to be a really good employee. That’s all.”
When healthy, the 6’6″ tight end is easily a top 10 player at his position and will be an upgrade from Scott Chandler who served as the Patriots’ second tight end last season and has since been released by the Patriots due to his inability to produce productive numbers alongside star tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Since 2013, Martellus is second in the NFL among tight ends in yards after contact trailing only his now fellow teammate, Rob Gronkowski. The threat of Bennett, Gronkowski, and wide out Julian Edelman will surely make one of the NFL’s most dangerous offensives that much scarier in 2016 and a welcome sight for aging quarterback Tom Brady.
The Patriots have long been known to favor a two tight-end set, which when done right can cause havoc for opposing defenses as we saw when the Patriots offense featured the duo of Hernandez and Gronkowski back in 2011 and 2012.
During those two years, Brady threw for over 10,000 yards (the most in his career over a two-year span) along with 73 touchdowns. New England will now look to go back to that dynamic two tight-end blueprint with Bennett in the mix.
Bennett is in the final year of his contract and is reportedly going to earn a base salary of around $5 million in 2016. The deal is easily a win for the Patriots who are getting top-flight talent at a position they’ve desperately been trying to fill for a discounted rate.
The deal has yet to be finalized, but NFL sources have confirmed that the deal will be completed as the two teams are just sorting through the paper work.
The Patriots willingly gave up a sixth-round draft pick in exchange for Bennett and a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft.
[Photo by Rick Osentoski/AP]