ESPN’s Mike Reiss released his weekly notes and, as always, there is some excellent information. He has thoughts on WR Chris Hogan, RB Dion Lewis, TE Jimmy Graham, and S Duron Harmon. Check it out.
I wanted to highlight this bit on TE Martellus Bennett (emphasis added).
“When the Patriots acquired tight end Martellus Bennett from the Chicago Bears in a March trade,” Reiss writes, “the sides explored a scenario that would have added a year on to Bennett's existing contract. But they never came to an agreement, so Bennett remains part of the team's significant upcoming unrestricted free-agent class after the season (e.g. Dont'a Hightower, Jabaal Sheard, etc.). That history is something to file away for the future on a situation that, to this point, has been a win-win for both Bennett and the Patriots.”
This seems important, right?
The Patriots sent a 4th round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to the Bears in exchange for Bennett and a 2016 6th round pick. Bennett was in the final year of a 4-year, $20.4 million deal and the Patriots apparently wanted to give him an extension before he ever played a snap.
Bennett has been excellent this year with 408 yards and 4 touchdowns. He replaced TE Rob Gronkowski over the first four weeks of the season and was set to have a big impact with QB Tom Brady until Bennett injured his ankle in week 5. He has been a valuable asset to the offense.
The Patriots want to keep Bennett around as Gronk-insurance, but also because he’s a great player in his own right. Bennett turns 30 this offseason, but tight ends have exceptionally long shelf lives and he could honestly play another five years, especially if he continues to thrive as a blocker.
It wouldn’t be surprising if some other team offered Bennett a deal valued at $6-$7 million per year due to rising salary caps and the increased reliance on tight ends. I would be shocked if the Patriots offered a deal at the higher end of the spectrum, although maybe Bennett would be willing to take a discount to stay in New England.