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Michael Bennett, Cowboys, Patriots

Grading the Cowboys’ acquisition of DE Michael Bennett

The Dallas Cowboys made a very New England Patriots-like acquisition on Thursday. Surprisingly, the team they made the swap with was the Pats themselves. Dallas dealt away a conditional seventh-round pick for pass-rusher Michael Bennett.

At first look, this isn’t a particularly good trade for either team. Bennett played just 30% of New England’s defensive snaps and registered only six total tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks. What isn’t shown in those statistics is the reason why Bennett has played so sparingly.

The former Seattle Seahawk was suspended by the Pats for conduct detrimental to the team. According to Bennett, it was nothing more than a disagreement with defensive line coach Bret Bielema. There’s no telling if Bennett is telling the truth, but head coach Bill Belichick was fed up enough to ship the defensive end off to Dallas for a very low price.

The Cowboys can celebrate this trade as a win. In the model of Bill Belichick, they plucked a proven veteran off of a team where he had fallen out of favor. Bennett can still play well in a rotational role, which is exactly the role he will play in Dallas. In a part-time situation with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018, Bennett had nine sacks while only playing 69% of snaps.

Bennett will likely play even less than that with the Cowboys, as they already have a loaded defensive end group. Star end Demarcus Lawrence is the top dog, followed by the likes of Robert Quinn, Kerry Hyder, and Dorance Armstrong. With all of these bodies to rotate in, Bennett should rarely be caught in a situation where he needs to stay on the field for a full series. He will become a key contributor against the pass as the season progresses.

It’s pretty clear that Dallas has a lot of defensive linemen, so how exactly does Bennett fit in? He’ll obviously be a situational pass-rusher, as mentioned before, but there’s more to that than the title says. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves to find plus matchups for his linemen, and it shouldn’t be hard to do with Bennett.

Something to consider is that Bennett can rush from the defensive tackle position because of his unusual blend of size and speed. As a result of the Cowboys’ frequent use of run stunts and twists, he will have matchups against slow-footed guards and centers in those situations. He’ll cause havoc all game, and be a true problem for opposing offenses. It would come as no surprise to see Bennett surpass his mark of nine sacks from last year.

All in all, this trade is a huge win for the Cowboys. They gave up virtually nothing for a very talented player who fits perfectly in their scheme. This one grades out as a strong ‘A’ for Dallas, and a solid ‘B-‘ for New England.