Patriots news: New England releases Martellus Bennett
A little over a month removed from a crushing Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the New England Patriots have a few major decision to make concerning the state of their roster on both sides of the ball ahead of the 2018 season. The front office has a few key players set to hit the open market in free agency.
Prior to that, New England had appeared to make the choice to bring back former Pro Bowl tight end Marcellus Bennett for the second-year of his three-year, $21 million deal. However, Field Yates of ESPN is reporting that the Patriots have decided on Wednesday afternoon to part way with the 31-year-old.
More Bennett brothers news today: the Patriots are releasing TE Martellus Bennett, per league source.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 7, 2018
This comes just a couple of weeks after Bennett made it clear that he plans on playing in the 2018 season despite there being some rumblings that he could consider retirement. He is coming off a difficult 2017 season that saw his time with the Green Bay Packers come to an abrupt end after his displeasure with his role within the offense how he was being handled with his health.
He had quickly fallen out favor with the franchise that led to him being placed on waivers where he was claimed by the Patriots. During his brief tenure in Green Bay, he struggled to produce recording just 24 catches for 233 receiving yards in seven games played. Despite returning to familiar territory with New England, he only played in two games with the team where he hauled in all six of his targets for 53 receiving yard prior to being put on the season-ending IR due to nagging hamstring issues.
The decision to part ways by the Patriots likely came to the fact that he was due a $2 million roster bonus on March 14 that was a sizeable chunk of his $6.1 million on the books for the 2018 season, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
He was due a $2 million roster bonus next week from the deal he originally signed with the Packers. https://t.co/kAwIt99C8F
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) March 7, 2018
What this move may also signal is that All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski could be returning next season despite the possible retirement talks. Gronkowski still has two years left on his six-year, $54 million extension with $19 million left in both base salary and bonuses. There has yet to be any indication of whether he has decided he will make continue to play in the NFL.
Meanwhile, this puts Bennett on the market where he will be able to sign with any team ahead of the start of the free agency period. If he’s able to put his injuries in 2017 behind him, he could prove to be a reliable asset in the passing game recording more than 50 catches in each of the last five years prior to last year. Additionally, what is coincidental about this move is that his brother, Michael Bennett, was in agreed upon trade on Wednesday from the Seattle Seahawks to the Philadelphia Eagles.