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The 49ers just hurt the Patriots chances of extending TE Martellus Bennett

The San Francisco 49ers just have a huge contract extension to a player that might not have earned it.

The New England Patriots tried to extend Martellus Bennett by one year after acquiring the tight end from the Chicago Bears. The Patriots also offered Bennett an extension valued at $7 million per season. If we put two and two together, we can guess that the Patriots offered at least a 1-year, $7 million extension to Bennett.

For reference, $7 million per season would rank Bennett as the 14th highest paid tight end in the NFL. That sort of offer isn’t going to work anymore, thanks to the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers have signed TE Vance McDonald to a 5-year, $35 million extension with $16 million guaranteed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. For those that don’t want to do the math, the contract is valued at $7 million per year, or the exact same as what the Patriots offered Bennett.

McDonald is in the midst of his best season as a pro, but $7 million is steep for a player of McDonald’s caliber. While McDonald is an above average blocker, he is currently on pace for 33.6 receptions, 547.4 yards, and 5.6 touchdowns. When you compare him to other tight ends, he’s tied for 9th in touchdowns for tight ends (tight ends aren’t catching many touchdowns this year), but he also ranks 21st in receiving yards and 32nd in receptions.

If that is the sort of performance that earns a tight end $7 million per year, then Bennett is worth twice as much and Gronkowski deserves a small country because both ends of the Patriots tight end duo are vastly superior to McDonald.

When the Patriots bring Bennett back to the negotiation table, $7 million per year will be laughed out of the room. Bennett should start the negotiation with a Gronkowski-matching $9 million contract that would give Bennett a top five tight end contract, and maybe the two sides can settle on a 3-year, $24 million middle ground.

The 49ers were able to offer McDonald such a large contract because they have plenty of cap space and a need to retain whatever talent they can as they rebuild. The Patriots will have the cap space, but will they be willing to splurge?